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January 1, 2014

I watched this video while I was in college that just mesmerized me: over and over, a Japanese man painted black circles on a white canvas. That’s all there was to the video. The man would stand sideways to the easel, paintbrush in hand, and, starting from the bottom of the canvas, paint a circle so close to perfection that I initially didn’t believe it could be real.

But the more I watched, the more I believed.
the more I saw the tiny imperfections.
the more I recognized the beauty in those lines.
the more I understood the discipline.
the more I appreciated the process.
the more I longed to master.

Without intending to be reductive, Eastern discipline is about process and practice. It is about training all of your selves – physical, mental, spiritual – to function with precision and control and unity. It demands awareness, simplicity and humility in commitment.

Like the man painting circles
Like the musicians playing late into the night
Like the writer hunched over, pen in hand
Like the teacher composing a classroom of rapt learners
Like the physician soothing a colicky child

I want to master something. There is no secret to mastering a craft, a discipline, a profession: it simply requires time. A month, a year, a lifetime, maybe, but time nonetheless.

A few years back, I found his video of

Ira Glass, on creative pursuits and the importance of generating a large body of work

and Ira put the process into perspective for me. To master, one must create – regardless of how much the gap between what we create and what we want to create infuriates and disappoints.

When your taste is killer, create!

I don’t do New Years Resolutions.

I do themes. Big ideas. Expectations that I can’t talk my way out of. Standards that pervade and inform everything I do. I can’t get away from my New Years themes. And that’s why they stick.

Since I “retired” from being a collegiate student-athlete, I have lived my life devoid of routine. I traveled for three months in Europe, did some substitute teaching (which evolved into a long-term gig at an alternative high school – but even those days were hardly routine), worked sports camps, spent a summer playing around outside, got a job as a volleyball coach at a university. I of course have things to get done for my coaching job – and we are training again now – but something is missing.

I want to learn, to create, to master. While I like to think I have interesting perspectives, I also surround myself with people who have killer taste. I have an able body, a quick mind and a special network of nurturing, creative spirits. I just need to put that shit to work.

So.

After weeks of self-debate and -reflection (and a lifetime of unfinished projects and half-baked blueprints), I have officially declared

2014: The Year of Doing a Little Bit Every Day

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