My husband and I are both musicians — he's still a professional, and I like to tell people I retired in my late 20s (it makes a great ice-breaker). There were a lot of reasons we fell in love at 19... but perhaps few as great as our mutual obsession with practicing.
For those non-musicians reading this, let me explain that there are two types of musicians: people who have to practice to get to perform, and people who live to practice. He and I are definitely camp number two. The performances are amazing, sure... but it's the whole journey that rocks your socks. And 99% of that journey happens off-stage. Oh, to have several uninterrupted hours in a tiny, windowless room with existential dread about whether you'll ever amount to anything. It's a thing of beauty, people...
So, if I may... I present to you: an ode to practicing.
Here's to routine — to waking up early, eating the same thing every day so your mouth doesn't taste weird and you don't feel wonky when you're trying to work. To wearing what you feel most comfortable in, even if you wore it a few days ago. Here's to cultivating sameness.
Here's to familiarity — to tucking into your space; to sitting down in the same chair at the same time every morning.
A toast, as well, to beginning fresh — the feeling of truly starting for the day. The moment when you transition from "I haven't yet begun today" to "now I have started my work." To the very first imprints on a new day.
To feeling your way — to seeing what kind of impression yesterday made upon you, and figuring out how to set yourself up for success today. To ironing out problems, to trying new things, to being compassionate toward yourself.
Here's to heroicism. Raise your glass to epic strengthening sessions that make you wonder how you'll ever get through, but get through you must. Here's to mental toughness. To crushing it out. To building, and building, and building.
Then, once the foundation is built up more today than ever before, a toast to digging into tasks and projects. To carefully, meticulously working through something line by line. To zooming in on a tiny, essential fragment for what feels like forever. To craftsmanship.
As well, to rest. To self-imposed schedules that include breaks. That include water. That include walks and naps and chats with colleagues. To walking away so that you can come back later.
And finally, to returning. To tapping back into the feelings and abilities you planted within yourself earlier. To building and building and finding and growing. To frustration. To resentment. To forgiveness. To excitement. To achievement. To pride.