Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Insight About Time for Writers, Artists and Dreamers

Here's a thought for the day. The second half of this has sustained me for much of my life, but two weeks ago I heard both halves together for the first time. It went something like this:

"We tend to overestimate what can be done in the short term and underestimate what we can accomplish in the long haul." 

The first half of this statement, though complete in and of itself, serves as a setup for the second part. Both portions reveal the elasticity of our perceptions of time.

Time is one of those very strange things that even though measured (sixty seconds to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day) is perceived as slipping by fast or dragging so very slow. As the song goes,

Time is too slow for those who wait 
And time is too swift for those who fear 
Time is too long for those who grieve 
And time is too short for those that laugh

When we're busy we hardly notice time at all. When we're waiting in line or waiting for a meeting to end, it becomes the only thing we're conscious of, an inexorable, fidgety anguish sets in.

But it's the second half of the maxim that I would like to underscore, especially if you are a young person. Life is much longer than you think, and you can accomplish much more than you realize if you go after it.

Look how many books Stephen King has written? But when he was in his early twenties, he had but one.

Look how many albums Bob Dylan has produced. There was a time when that landscape lay before him and all he had was one thin dime.

Lincoln purportedly once said, "The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." Indeed. If I was told I had to produce 2600 short essays as a writing assignment it would overwhelm me. But here I have been blogging continuously for near seven years, one blog entry at a time, and we're now well past that, plus six books, hundreds of illustrations to accompany them, and...

Well, all this to say is that you can do it, too. If you're a poet, try writing a poem a day. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. Just make it a habit to keep the juices flowing. If you keep a journal, daily is best and whether a short entry or long, push yourself to make it interesting for someone to read, even if years later it's only you.

These latter lines are more for writers. Maybe you're a carpenter, or a jeweler, or whatever. Little by little you can accomplish much. But it always begins with today.

Today is the only real time we have that we can be sure of. Expend yourself. Make something happen.

It begins with a dream. 

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