Beauty in the Process

This week, I experienced starting a lot of different types of learning. I am working on obtaining my AWS certification, so studying for that; I also started working on a piece of music and that meant needing to learn how to use a new looper pedal! AND I started writing a new poem.

Toward the end of the week, I also read a tweet from a good friend who felt very frustrated with his inability to focus. This got me thinking about the idea that we have to focus our energy in long, intense sessions in order to achieve something.

For example, this week (and most weeks), I don’t really have TIME to focus for very long. Maybe I get a free half hour during the work day, and then another hour before bed to do calmer things like reading, writing, or planning for my day.

One of the things I tried this week was practicing an etude. It turns out that etudes are a great metaphor for many things we want to do in life. Most musicians detest etudes at some early point in their career. Etudes seem a bit pointless; we practice them, but the benefit is unclear in the short term. During my undergrad, those 30 minutes a day I spent on my weekly etude were frustrating at first. After a year, though, I started to love etudes! These short studies forced focus by only being “about” one thing – one bow technique, or one left hand technique, or one musical technique. The structure of the etude allowed me to use a shorter period of time to improve one area over the span of a week.

In that spirit, I have approached the past few weeks. My learning and products are not done. Is learning ever done? At any rate, I was pretty reluctant to share this week, because it’s hard to share something when it doesn’t feel finished. That said, I think it’s important to share with you the poem I’m halfway through writing.

handwritten draft of a poem I’m working on, after Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

The above picture is of my journal from this past week, as I’ve worked on my poem, modeled after Lady Lazarus, by Sylvia Plath. It is one of her later poems, one that I’ve known for more than twenty years now. In all that time, I never read the poem quite as I did during the past week. For the first time, the rich depth of her imagery choices became apparent to me. It is difficult to craft a poem the way she does, and I found myself stuck. I couldn’t finish the poem in time for this week’s post. Instead, I give you this, an unfinished work. A reminder: just because you don’t have all the time, all the energy, all the focus, or all the answers, doesn’t mean to let go of what you want to accomplish. Accept yourself, where you are, and know that you’ll get where you want to be with steady effort, regardless of the bumps. And hopefully, I’ll be able to share a complete poem with you next week. Cheers!