Parable with Ruckus and a Pile of Wooden Toys

Lately I’ve been thinking about the difference between a business-as-usual mindset (and subsequent output) and an only-here-and-only-now mindset (and subsequent output).

The former feels forced to me — the old square peg / round hole dilemma. If you’re on either end of that equation, during a quarantine, it will grind you down over time.

The latter feels freer, better, and certainly more energizing.

Imagine it this way: You’re in a traditional rock and roll band. You make music with a guitar, a bass, a drum kit, and an amplification system that makes the whole ruckus really loud. You like making music that way, and through a combination of smart work and dumb luck, you slowly start to build a name for yourself. People reward you by paying attention to the music you make, by showing up for your concerts, by streaming your work and sharing it with others. You’re able to buy better versions of the same equipment. You push yourself, of course, but you end up putting out music that is consistent in some ways.

Now imagine this: One day, you — and your signature sound — are transported to and locked in a room. You’re told you will have to stay there for an indefinite period of time. You look around and realize that, besides food and water and a bed, you have access to a tambourine, an out-of-tune piano, a pile of wooden toys, and a boom box with a record button and a stack of old-school cassette tapes.

In that situation, you’d have to ask yourself: business-as-usual or only-here-and-only-now? Old ruckus or new?

And of course you’d have to make an even more fundamental decision before making those decisions: are you really a musician, someone in a deep relationship with sound, or did you just like the way you looked holding that guitar?

Only here and only now.

What I’m Working on this Week

Oh, that’s simple. Ergonomics. After a solid week of working from home, my back and neck feel constantly a little sore. I’ve been working a job of some sort since I was 18, and some of those jobs entailed manual labor. I have never experienced physical pain as the result of work. Until now.

This week, I’ll be giving the tips in this article a try. I hope you’ll consider them, as well, and please share your own tips and tricks.

This week was hard, but this week I loved anyway . . .

  1. Fixing a printer with my daughter. The look on her face when it actually worked.
  2. Listening to old Built to Spill songs, especially the long ones.
  3. Reading Charles Portis novels after 5. Just a few pages at a time to draw a line between the workday and the rest of the day.
  4. That being home all day means seeing all the trees and flowers coming into bloom. That each day the progress is noticeable, although I never noticed that before.
  5. Turning on the television at night and watching whatever is on for a few minutes.
  6. New Waxahatchee music called St. Cloud.
  7. Talking on the phone with people.
  8. Texting a lot more with certain friends.
  9. Having lunch each day with my family.
  10. Hearing my kids (through the walls) talking with their teachers and their friends.
  11. Student thinking making itself visible in new ways.
  12. Asking how can I? about 5 times a day and usually finding a good enough way.
  13. Emailing with Dan about music.
  14. Chicken dinner, Wednesday night.
  15. Starting a new, small writing project with Eric and Reshan.
  16. Waking up slowly. Not having to rush through the morning just to rush through the day.
  17. The voices of people showing up in all kinds of new ways.
  18. My daughter’s advisor saying through a videoconference: “keep growing your friendships, your creativity, your hearts.”
  19. That good enough is good enough.