I can’t do the splits.
I’m in a constant battle with myself because my end goal always ends up being “fanny on the floor”.
The problem with that goal, though, is my brain cheats.
“Oh, you want to lift that leg higher? Okay, well, we’ll just round our back a bit and lean back slightly, you won’t notice, there you go, leg high HURRAH”
Only, if I’m leaning back and hunching a bit, I’m not using the muscles I’m supposed to use to lift my leg and build the active flexibility I so badly want.
My end goal in this exercise is height, and so height is what my brain delivers — at any cost.
When I’m descending into the splits, because my goal is to get flat to the floor, I bend.
I deviate from the split I want because my helpful brain is trying to be helpful by cheating.
What I end up with, if I’m lucky, is a crappy split and less flexibility.
If I’m unlucky, I get a niggly little injury somewhere.
So, my battle is always to be clear on my goal: it’s not to get a flat split. It’s to do the exercise as correctly as I possibly can, no matter how frustrating and difficult it is, because the split will then take care of itself.
The goal is to do the hard thing well.
But nobody wants to do the hard thing; we all want the cheat code. Right?
If there was a cheat code for “you can do the splits right now, injury free, if you just press this sequence of buttons” I’d be all over it because I’m basically lazy.
But how about painting?
How about writing?
You know what — for me, art is different. I wouldn’t take the cheat code because that’s basically AI now. Maybe.
And that’s not why creatives create; it’s not the end goal that’s important. That’s why, once we’ve created something, we’re dissatisfied, onto the next thing, and the next — because it’s the ideas that matter.
But we forget this, sometimes, especially in this world that focuses so much on a “productive end goal” and tells us our art is frivolous.
I think this mismatch between what we think we want — or what we feel we should want — and what we actually want is the reason there are so many promises of “write a bestseller in a weekend”. So many magic buttons, potions, One True Ways to 10X our stuff.
Knowing the difference between the times we simply have to get our heads down and work, and the times we can look for a tool or a trick or a tip to help, is a skill worth having.
We want to believe there’s an easy way through, but there’s really, really not. There’s no way to bypass the hard work of becoming truly talented at something.
There are no shortcuts.
No way around simply grafting at it.
So instead of having it be a graft, what if it’s a pleasure?
What if, instead of always pursuing the end goal of “a book!”, we make the process the prize?
When we cram ourselves into a clown rocket and fire ourselves in the general direction of our goal aiming to get there as fast as possible, we miss out all the important stuff.
We miss the pleasure of trying stuff and missing; of iterating; of finding beauty in mistakes and new ideas in stuff that did not work.
Today, I am going to play.
I am going to set a timer and think.
I’ll write my thoughts, or speak them into my voice notes, or video myself rambling through my ideas.
And then I’ll have something to play with.
Over to you…