Challenge Day Fourteen

Music is a part of my psyche.

What I have come to realize, as the days wear on and I continue to fail to play music for any significant amount of time, is at this moment in my life, I do not have the same kind of interest in playing music that I have in writing, or even dancing. I drag my feet about doing abs exercises, but I feel the same sort of block in my startup energy for playing music as I do in starting a load of laundry: it feels like a chore, a task, something to endure, something I wish I could skip.

Well, I can. That’s the thing.

I started this project with the idea that forcing myself to do what I love every day, or on some sort of regular interval, would soften my resistance to doing the work. But while that’s happening with my writing – I’m spending hours working on this blog, on my poetry, on my fiction notes, on essays about admirable people – it isn’t happening with my music. I’ve stayed up until the wee hours finding the right turn of phrase or a compelling featured image, but the idea of having to practice, when there are so many other things to be done, is boring. I’ve been in this headspace before.

For my first two years of undergraduate work, I attended Carnegie Mellon University, where I double-majored in Creative Writing and Civil/Environmental Engineering. I actually was accepted into the Engineering school first, and added the Creative Writing thing on because those classes sounded like a nice break from all the math and science. (This should have been my first flag, that I thought Shakespeare and poetry analysis would be a breath of fresh air after Physics for Engineering Students.) After two years, I dropped Engineering and switched to a liberal arts-centered school. The way I always tell it is, I realized I wasn’t cut out for engineering when I couldn’t make it to my Differential Equations class at 2:00 in the afternoon, but my 9:30AM poetry class was not a problem.

So I guess what I’m saying here is, music has become my engineering. I’m good at it, I do enjoy it, but it’s not what I want to dedicate all my energy toward, and I need to accept that and move in a direction where friction won’t work against me. This is not to say that I won’t keep trying to play music every day, but I will stop feeling bad if I don’t. I hereby allow myself to fail, to not succeed, to fall below expectations. If I want to be exceptional at something, I have to come to terms with being mediocre at other things. It’s about balance.

Daily Challenges

Intimate Time
CookingToday’s Menu: I started with a breakfast shake; for lunch, cottage cheese (I’m not a heavy daytime eater, I prefer a big dinner to sustain me into the night); Monday night is pizza night, so Guy ordered Pagliacci (we also had salad.)
Reading (Poetry)Today was the birth date of e. e. cummings, probably my favorite poet who is dead, so I read several of his poems, including a few I hadn’t read before, among them “La Guerre (I)” which scathes humanity for wholeheartedly embracing the horror of war. Can you love people, when people are horrible?
Reading (Fiction)I am still reading The Poisonwood Bible! My goal was to read 2+ pages per day, and I am smashing that by an order of magnitude, but I am still less than a quarter of the way through the book.
Reading (Nonfiction)Because it was his birthday, and because I am reconnecting with the craft of poetry, I read about the life and work of e. e. cummings. I actually didn’t know that he was American, I always thought he was British. Obviously I never thought to check. It’s kind of funny to me how many details I overlooked about many things, back when I was younger. It’s like….stupid kid.
MusicAs you may have guessed from my previous discussion, I did not play music today. I’ve realized that my main goal for music is to retain my skills, to be able to play my instruments whenever I want, with some level of competence. I will keep this goal in mind as I continue my challenges.
Postcard PoemThis postcard is from a set that I picked up from King’s Books in Tacoma, where Abby’s reading happened; I hope that the people who receives this and the rest of the set find them as enjoyable as I do:

The poem was inspired by dance class tonight. I picked a song that turned out to have two versions on Spotify, and I chose the one I didn’t know. It was not how I intended to do the night, but it was unexpectedly fun, and growth only happens through discomfort.

midlife crisis? more
like a surprise rap break in
the middle of life.
– Sarah Reebs
Trash PickupToday was another day where all Howie’s walks happened without me. I don’t feel so guilty about missing a day, because I intend to carry this habit forward, so it’s kinda like, I’ll get to that later! Mostly I don’t want to miss two days in a row, that feels like slacking.

Today’s Challenges

Monday night is dance class night! I felt a bit of a different vibe in the room tonight, which is always fun. A couple of women attended whom I haven’t seen in a while, and it was nice to connect with them and with everyone else in the room. My music incident (see the postcard poem above for details) at first made me irritable, but then I embraced the awkwardness. What resulted were a lot of new shapes and an unusual quality of movement for me. I have lately loved experimenting in my dance, and I’m so glad to have the space for it.

I’m giving myself a break today from abs, because my back is really bothering me, and it’s tired from dance class. The new end date for my 14-day challenge is this Sunday, which is going to be a whopper of a day! I’ll be doing my Alter Ego photo shoot (for which I am semi-prepared) and posting a Humans of Interest piece about a badass photographer I’m lucky enough to know. I’m looking forward to both immensely!


  1. Ladafi says:

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    This is one of my favorite poems and is hard for me not to tear up.

    Thanks for sharing your dance and your thoughts today.

    1. Keep Right says:

      “it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
      and whatever a sun will always sing is you”

      That is one of my faves also, but “anyone lives in a pretty how town” really struck me the very first time I read it, and every time I come back to it, I am reminded to live my truth, or I will miss out on what’s really important.

      Thanks for being here (metaphysically and IRL) with me. You lift me every day.

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