Show Up - Every Day
Be inspired by blog post # 6000 by Seth Godin, entitled "Susdat!":
"Abbey Ryan has painted a new painting every day for 8 years. Isaac Asimov published 400 books, by typing every day. This is post #6000 on this blog. Writer's block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady. More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don't feel like it, when you believe it's not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens.
It doesn't matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up.
Show up, sit down and type. (Or paint)."
This observation is rich and encouraging - I find a spiritual message here. It tells me to regard every day as a day worthy of structure, dedication, discipline, and joy. It also tells me to reconsider routine as ritual and to enjoy the space for daily inspiration which has been freed as the question of "should I or shouldn't I" is eliminated. Commitment does the trick as a huge energy saver. "Show up, sit down and type!" (S-u-s-d-a-t!)
When writing my Ph.D. thesis it struck me early on that I would be responsible for every word, for every comma in my text. So if I didn't write it there would be no thesis in the end. This encouraged me to pray myself through the emotional ups and downs and embrace the commitment to writing every day. Even if I didn't feel inspired I still showed up at my desk and wrote - sometimes those parts at the periphery of my main thesis, sometimes the more boring parts, like relating the state of research in my field or typing a bibliography. I wrote every day. After a short while this routine felt normal - it was just the way my days were structured. Bible study, listening and prayer were part of it as taking care of our first son. The Ph.D. thesis was finished in about one third of the time projected in my fellowship.
There is a beauty in effortless routine, quiet joy about kept promises. Consecration and consistency are truly meaningful, because they can't be avoided. They are backed up by spiritual law, as it looks from a spiritual perspective. Mindfulness is wonderful in its focus on the now - and it transforms life into something joyful. Forming good habits is easier than one thinks. We just have to show up. Every day. Be it for prayer, writing, Bible study, art, improving language skills, or a reading project.My current morning routine includes two pages of the Bible commentary Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. Only two pages even if I am tempted to read more. I started in July and it will take about a year.
We can move beyond the question whether we feel like it. The quality of our work will improve, the perspective on life will change, the meaningful will be separated from the distracting. You've gotta make room for the first things first. I was impressed to see in Weimar, in Goethe's home, a chart of Greek grammar right across from his bed. And learning that Goethe had a habit of learning and improving some basic skill (in this case his Greek) every morning. (See a photo of the Goethehaus) Apart from writing every day. As an aside, you might enjoy these more practical tips on rising early by Leo Babauta and a fabulous article on fifteen benefits of rising early by Frank Apodaca from The Sleep Judge.
Mary Baker Eddy, an early riser (and night worker), a great-souled woman with a remarkable daily routine and consecration to goodness, gave this advice around 1890, in a text on how to be true to ourselves. It sounds a little sassy, but it is saying it as it is:
"There is but one way of doing good, and that is to do it!" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 86)
Or, as Seth Godin is putting it in 2015: Susdat!