Patrick Rhone, author of Enough and Mac Minimal, talked about the Finishing School in his most recent podcast. It was interesting hearing his thought process in deciding to start a Minneapolis/St. Paul Finishing School. The sentiment that stuck with him the most was this: something worth doing at all is worth starting tonight.
Boris Taratutin, an engineering student in Massachusetts, saw my guest post about living life like an experiment at The Art of Manliness and is getting together with a group of his friends to talk about self-reflection behavior changing. Their first tenet is based around this question: what’s the smallest step I can take now?
Running a marathon. Learning to rock climb. Reading for self-education. Learning Krav Maga. The experiences that led me to start this blog happened only because of this question: how do I start tonight?
I used to write a lot of music. I wasn’t majoring in music– heck, I wasn’t even in college when I learned, so I had to find other resources to teach myself– websites, books, scores, any mentor who would listen to a green 16-year old’s stabs at polyphony. I ended up learning a lot from a centuries-old book called The Study of Counterpoint. It turns out it was the same text the young Beethoven studied. I still have highlighted a piece of advice from one of the corny master-student conversations in that book, “allow no day to pass without a line written”. This advice is actually a quotation whose source is obscured– undoubtedly a Mediterranean artist of antiquity though, commenting on the necessity of continual practice.
Never a day without a line written. Nulla dies sine linea. This stuck with me, and years later I started a blog whose logo had emblazoned across the bottom that Latin inscription.
This post has been a few days in the making. Not because I have a good excuse. I’m as busy as anyone else– but so is everyone. I mean, I don’t have excuses, I have anti-excuses: I love writing, this blog means a lot to me, and I spend way too much time on facebook. So to go a day without writing on it is particularly and uniquely pathetic. I don’t expect to write a post every day– that’s unreasonable. But I can write a line every day, and yesterday night as I shut down my computer, I noticed the open draft.
No, I’m tired. My eyes are too tired.
Just one sentence.
No, I can’t think.
Just one line.
Those pillows are soft. You’ve been out all day.
Just one line.
I wrote one line. Second paragraph, first sentence.
Today I edited hit; hit post.
One line at a time. Asking a marathoner friend for training plan recommendations. Looking up rock climbing and Krav Maga gyms. Finding out what I needed to get a library card. That was the reason this blog was started. That’s how those things got done.
A life of should haves is only a day away, as long as you have an excuse every day.
This is why we have the first rule of the Finishing School: you must make at least some progress on at least one goal. No excuses.