That past two weeks I’ve suffered from a spell of writer’s block. These times aren’t overly troubling. I’ve had them before. One such spell lasted an entire year. I simply didn’t have anything to say, so I didn’t bother trying to write. I suppose that part of the discipline of writing involves fighting through such times. I suppose that’s what I’m doing by writing this post.
My writer’s block has led me to think about the nature of craft and art. Part of the recent challenge has been the business of my schedule. September is a very busy month. Free time has been a precious commodity. But then again, as I heard over and over growing up, ‘it’s not about having time, it’s about making time’. In the process of running around, I haven’t accomplished very much. I’ve simply been busy.
Busyness is high modern virtue. We hold it in high esteem. People who aren’t busy are considered lazy, deficient or perhaps exceptionally lucky- perhaps wealthy enough not to be busy. As we (and by ‘we’ I’m speaking to the populace of my local megalopolis) race around being virtuous, I wonder what it is we actually accomplish.
Instead of business, perhaps we should rediscover the virtue of mastery. Consider Antonio Stradivari. He invested his time on the mastery of musical instruments. It was something he would not do if he were ‘busy’. There’s little doubt that Stradivari was gifted, but gifts are wasted unless honed and developed to their fullest potential.
I wonder what we could accomplish if we spent less time focusing on being busy and more time on mastering our gifts. What would we be able to create. I once met a man who spent his life in the mining industry. Over time he developed and patented a machine that major multinational companies used in their production. He manufactured each machine, one at a time, in his garage. In his own way he was like Antonio Stradivari. He wasn’t busy, but he’d become a master of his craft.
I wonder how our lives would be different if we placed as much value in mastery as we do in busyness.