Friday, March 18, 2016

Gulping Down Truths

“When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”  

It is a saying from an old philosophical calendar I received as a gift as an undergraduate at EIU - one of those 365 days of ‘XYZ’ that show up around Christmas time.  

Interpretation of philosophical tidbits like these are meant to be unpacked from a number of different vantage points, but let’s try this one:

Our growth, our development, our understanding of and within the various components that make up the human experience - love, happiness, envy, work, family, friendship, death, freedom, justice, fear, etc. - are not dependent on some outside source.  

Understanding in these realms of the human experience is dependent on the individual.  

“When the student is ready, the lesson will be understood.”

Life is speaking to us always, if we will only pause to listen.  
(This can or cannot be interpreted spiritually -- the choice is yours.)

Let's review. 

Example #1: (Beginner)
Life has reminded me many times that anything more than a handful of rounds of tequila has the potential to ruin the majority of the following day.
I am not a child.  I know how tequila works.  How is it that one continues to allow entire days to be removed from him?  
Lesson unlearned. 

Example #2: (Intermediate)
Life has reminded me many times that general maintenance of my physical health is far more tenable than complete body transformation.
I still choose to skip the occasional Monday workout, knowing that this likely leads to another skipped day in my week.  I now must work overtime to prepare for summertime activities.
Lesson unlearned. 

Example #3: (Advanced)
Life continues to remind me of various things on women, love, relationships, etc.
Alex ain’t too bright.
Lesson unlearned.

Should we miss a lesson - many of us do (I am famous for missing most of them) - worry not!  The lesson will return incessantly (sometimes painfully so) until we at last adjust our thoughts, choices and actions accordingly.

Let’s get serious.  

Last week, I got to do one of my favorite and least favorite things to do -- finish a great book. I finished two actually, which is not uncommon as I am always reading many at once -- 7 books, at the moment.  
(Note: I am working on a reading list to post for those of you who like reading but struggle to find the right books for yourself.)

This particular one - "The War of Art" - was impactful. It was on creativity. It was insightful practically, engaging spiritually and provided some much needed advice. 

Ready for it? It's quite simple.  

Writers write.
(Or more globally -- whatever it is that you do → you do. I.e Healers heal. Teachers teach. Painters paint. Etc.)

The last handful of weeks were a bit rough.  I call them rough because I was not overwhelmingly (ok, frustratingly) positive and optimistic -- the spirit I am often able to embody, but every so often lose my grasp of.  

Here’s what happened:
I call it “Gulping Down Truths.” 

Truth #1:
Despite a lack of inspiration and/or motivation, one must still practice their craft.

For the last month, I had been struggling creatively. Like all artists, I go through it - a routine struggle that seems to show up every handful of months, despite my best efforts to keep it at bay.  

My book has been stuck at a standstill.
My blog has not had a post in weeks.
The last song I had written before I wrote "Rest Easily, Virginia," was "Mother May We" -- which I wrote in September of 2015.

I would write for 10 minutes, then become bored or unimpressed and walk away.  

But great work does not arrive that way.  You have to show up everyday, despite being sick, tired, discouraged, or otherwise.  Great work, for the most part, comes through effort and firm commitment.   

I am pleased to announce I have completed three new songs since I received the advice, and have nine others underway. 

A couple of them I am excited about.
A few others I think people will like.
The remaining ones my family and friends will clap for fireside.

In short, I am going to finish all of them, beginning with one titled “The Kiss.”  Imagine a country ballad influenced by the likes of D’Angelo and Justin Timberlake -- it is a beautiful mess, but I like where it is heading. 

Truth #2:
Money is not everything, but it is helpful.

I have a small income here in Spain.  Financial gain was not one of the main motivations behind this pursuit.  

About a month ago, I fell asleep watching a movie (probably Hook) in bed, and I kicked the computer to the floor.  First off -- it’s not my computer.  It’s my brothers.  Secondly, I broke the screen -- $1,000 repair.  I don’t have many of those ($1,000).  

I also broke the shifter on my borrowed bike, and damaged the plug for my foot pedal. 

Lots of unexpected expenses all at once without strong income to cover them. 

I am still in the process of finalizing what I will do following my time here in Spain.  While I may desire a whole host of fun/exciting/cool/etc opportunities, it is paramount that I am in position to meet all of life’s demands -- including the financial ones.

Life, despite thorough preparation, organization and frugal living, can still be expensive. 

Truth #3:
Missing important or tragic events with loved ones is the worst. 

My grandmother passed away about a month ago. 
--First and foremost, thank you to all of you who chose to leave a note, send a message, etc.  They meant a great deal.  

Exploring the world is a wonderful thing, especially now when it is more affordable (Air BnB, Couchsurfing, Frequent Flyer Miles, etc.) and more efficient (you can get just about anywhere in ~15 hours) than ever before.  

Nevertheless, emergencies can strike and it is a terribly hopeless feeling to not be with your loved ones through a trying time.  This was not a complete surprise -- Virginia lived far longer than most of us expected.  But being away through the process was frustrating.  

A host of other lessons have unfolded during my time here in Spain of varying sizes, impact and amusement, but all have been worthwhile.  Time will tell which ones I retain, and which ones I will have to repeat.  Life can be unforgiving in its demands.  

Currently enjoying that refreshing feeling of being renewed, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring. 

$.50 Philosophy