If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” - Michelangelo
Tapas - No, I am not talking about Spanish cuisine here. But the yogic virtue of consistent, focused and diligent work. If you want to be an expert at something, you have to work at it. Of course you can pretend or posit, but to truly be great, you have to put in the 10,000 hours, burn the midnight oil, give your blood, sweat and tears, etc... you get the idea. As much as we wish for it to be so, it doesn’t just descend upon us the minute we decide to pursue a skill. There! Nothing more needs to be said. This post can end right here.
But no, I must go on a little longer as this is for a friend. Probably the only regular reader of this blog. I can’t cheat her of my ramblings now, can I? Also, I have something to tell her that I meant to say a few days ago. It's all the way towards the end of this post. I know, I am very considerate that way. But I promise to keep this post short... well, shorter than usual.
So going back to the topic... It is always very tempting to imagine being bestowed the labels we so often admire in others. We covet those labels and sometimes even project ourselves to be worthy of those tags. But all those endless hours of work that leads to actually owning the label isn’t all that alluring.
We love the character traits and the image a label is associated with. We love all that a label implies - the ability for hard work, the aptitude and the self-discipline that supports the responsibilities that come with it. But when wishing for it and in all our eagerness to pursue it, the hard work and perseverance that is required to get there is grossly underestimated.
Take a job for instance. More often than not, we like a job for the title and the perks it offers and not necessarily for the job per se. For emphasis, I would like to share a handful of labels I aspire for at the moment:
I would like to be a tech-geek. The one who is incessantly curious and creative in building interesting technology. But I wish it could be done without spending countless hours in front of a screen. It is so tiresome.
I would like to have the yogic poise at all times. But I would rather not spend hours, day in and day out, practicing to move mindfully and meditate. I wish I was born with it.
I would like to be a writer but don’t have the self-discipline and imagination to sit down and tap out simple and profound words. I wish it was like breathing.
I would like to be a reader, which to me also entails remembering and assimilating everything I read. Being able to recall and quote lines from a book, is to me the mark of a good reader. So it is a sad fact then that I forget almost everything about even the most engaging and captivating of books. I wish it was easy.
I would like to be a runner. To feel the energy and passion for it, but without the aches and pains, of course. Which I understand is a paradox.
I would like to be a traveller. I don’t have to be the true adventuristic backpacking sort. Just the pick-a-place-and-just-go kind would do. But I so easily get annoyed and upset when things don’t go the way I plan for on a trip. And that is not travelling, in any sense of the word.
I would like to be a good swimmer. But without having to put in hours of practice it takes to be graceful in the water. I can barely survive and let’s just say that grace is not the word one would use for my style of swimming.
So when my friend mentioned to me the other day that everything she does requires a lot of work on her part unlike her son who is naturally talented and excels at everything he does and does so effortlessly, I had a vague sense of what I wanted to say in response to that. But couldn’t find the words at that time - what can I say, it was late and I was in a bit of a stupor after stuffing myself with delicious Mexican food. And it was also well past the time of day when my brain calibrates down to the ‘bare-basics' mode. Anyway, enough with the excuses, here is what I would like to tell her...
I think she has the greatest gift anybody could possess - the innate motivation to work with integrity on whatever she sets her mind to.
Now if only I had half the tenacity she has, I could be...