Be on Time

April 14, 2016

Can we all agree to be early for places or events where we’re expected?

When I was in high school, I was in band. I played an instrument, I marched in football half-time shows, Saturday afternoon competitions, and Christmas parades.

And I loved it. For real.

One of the biggest lessons I learned throughout grueling summer practices and seemingly endless sectionals was to show up early. It must have been our director’s biggest pet peeve because he was constantly saying,

If you’re early, you’re on time, If you’re on time, you’re late. You should be here, in this band hall, in your seat with your instrument assembled and your music out, and in order to do that you have to be fifteen minutes early AT LEAST.

We were all so scared of his wrath that of all the inevitable disciplinary problems that accompanied overseeing and teaching a large group of teenagers, tardiness was almost never one of them. Thus, punctuality was so deeply ingrained in me, I get a little panicky to this day if I can’t get somewhere at least ten minutes early.

In fact, I find it irrevocably rude when others aren’t where they’re supposed to be on time. I recognize that my utilitarian timeliness standards aren’t a factor motivating everyone, but being late has become synonymous, to me, with inconsideration, rudeness, and laziness. Ain’t nobody got time for tardiness.

A constant penchant for lateness indicates a blatant disregard for anyone else. For example, people drive their most recklessly typically when they are late. What can be more selfish than putting people’s lives in harm’s way because you didn’t do your due diligence? Inconsiderate.

Being early offers so much relief and freedom from stress. Light traffic? Not a problem. Forgot something at home? Turn around, go get it. Road closed? Weather causing a problem? Slow down because you’ve got time. ┬áCan’t find a parking place? ┬áNeed to use the restroom before [whatever you’re doing] begins? You’re early, so go nuts!

Punctuality makes living so much easier! Thanks, band, for teaching me the importance and benefit of showing up early. You’re one of my favorite life lessons.

The Secret to Mastery? Simplicity

March 28, 2016

I have been practicing calligraphy and hand-lettering, and in fact, my new found love for the craft is what inspired this website’s creation. Calligraphy is, for me, what a bubble bath or mile run might be for others. There is nothing that calms my mind more than seriously mind-numbing tedium. One at a time, I just draw and redraw every. single. letter. of. the. alphabet. It helps me unwind and de-stress.

It wasn’t until I jumped the gun and started trying to copy intricate, beautiful works of some of my favorite Instagram accounts that the opposite effect started happening. I was becoming frustrated with my skills (or lack thereof), comparing my work with those I was copying.

Of course, it wasn’t as good. How could it be? I’m a newbie, and they’ve been honing their craft for much longer, but I was getting impatient with myself and my progress. Because of this impatience and dissatisfaction, I stopped practicing altogether.

The problem, I later identified, was that I got too big for my britches. I wasn’t practicing deliberately, simply, or even originally. When I listened to this podcast by Sean McCabe, I finally understood why I wasn’t seeing progress: I wasn’t employing deliberate practice.

With most skills or talents, one must first start with the basics. When I first learned piano, I practiced scales and arpeggios, playing them slowly and steadily until I could play them quickly and mistake-free. Obviously, I didn’t learn one scale and then attempt to play Mozart, so why was I trying to do that with calligraphy? Because I was making it too complicated for the sake of quick results. I was lured in by Instagram and others’ beautiful, talented work and wanted it for myself without having first put in the time, sweat, and blood. That’s just not how it works, friends.

Learn the basics, master the basics, and then become a master.

It’s really that simple.