practice

We crave an unbroken line between who we are and what we do.  It might be one of the hardest things in life to actually achieve, but it's what we want.  We want to love our profession, so that we can do it feeling unencumbered. It's not always possible because what we do has to provide us with our lifestyle.  So we often resort to doing what we don't want to support our life during the time we're not doing it.

Doing what we really want to do comes at a price.  The price is that we need to prioritize, in the most essential of ways, what our needs are.  By doing this, we reduce our lifestyle and the possibility of actually being able to support ourselves doing what we love becomes greater.  It sounds easy.  But it's damn hard.  Because it means you have to be honest with yourself, risk losing friends who don't get it, and cope with social down-stepping. And while that might seem doable, until you've actually started the process, you won't now how much steel you'll have to have inside to make it work.

Still, it's possible.  It's possible and it's very freeing, because it puts you more in alignment with who you really are.  And there is nothing more calming and reinforcing than knowing you are doing what you are meant to do.  Even if you have to have a side job to be able to do it, it's fine. Because it's for a greater purpose.

Learning a new skill, one that you have always wanted to learn, is never easy.  It's hard.  You have to really want it.  I don't care if it's painting, graphic design, pottery or cooking.  You do not come out of the box knowing how to do something just because you have a passion for it.  Malcom Gladwell writes in his book Outliers that to become super proficient at anything, you need to spend 10,000 hours doing it.  I believe that he's right.  That's one hell of a lot of hours.  But sheer will and determination will get you there if in fact you know that that one thing will bring you closer to who you really are.

I figure I've spent about 8,500 hours in the last 14 years wrapped up in pottery.  I'm closing in on the 10,000 hours, and I sense it in my work.  The last year has brought me ahead more than all the others combined.  I know I am a potter.  It's one of the ways I now define myself.  It's so engrained that I know for sure, if I keep working at it, I'll have success, however I define it. I only feel that way now, as I see the 10,000th hour in front of me somewhere.

Practice, when it involves something that you love, means you will become good at it.  And being good at something means being able to achieve satisfaction from it. Discipline, passion, and an untiring desire to be the best you can be will put you on the road to finding the deepest meaning in your life.