Here’s a quote I picked up in Michigan when Juan and I were visiting the north peninsula:
We’re all a quarter turn away from where we want to be.
Just a small adjustment, a slight fine-tuning. A mere quarter turn? No way, I thought, a catchy thing to say, but in reality not that easy.
Then today I accidentally did it! I discovered I was just a quarter turn away from where I wanted to be. I made an adjustment and a big arc opened up, Smoother, less effort, more power. The type of change that if only I had known about it from the beginning so many things would be so much easier.
I am talking about my golf club grip. OK, if you are not a golfer, bear with me: The grip is the way one's hands clasp the golf club. The correct grip gives your golf swing more strength and accuracy. Over time mine had gradually shifted to a more comfortable (lazier) grasp but as a result my strokes had become increasingly terrible, hacking and topping the ball, and this made playing more and more frustrating.
So this morning I took just a 30-minute lesson from a pro and with one small adjustment my drives, pitches and chips (different lengths of a stroke) are better. And what’s funny is that I’d prepared for the lesson by dissecting my golf challenges into nine different questions, thinking that each would need a separate answer. Nope, all nine questions taken care of with one solution: My grip.
I’m trying out a similar single-shot, quarter-turn adjustment with my writing routine. Last week’s newsletter came out after an unintentional 5-week break when other obligations got in the way. In searching for a solution to try to avoid this happening in the future I came across a practice called Morning Pages by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way. Cameron claims that the bedrock of creativity is a daily practice of writing three pages every morning by longhand. There are no rules. You can be whiny, get stuff off your chest, bubble with blessings or nothing at all — it’s stream of consciousness and anything goes. So far, I really like it. Because it turns out you can’t really write about nothing for three pages. Or, as Cameron writes: "The second page-and-a-half comes harder, but often contains pay dirt."
So, I’m not sure this is pay dirt but here’s a bit from a Morning Page, the new quarter-turn exercise I’m trying.
I’ve often felt pressure that mastery needs to be the goal of activity but recently I’ve been freed by the idea that an activity could simply be exposure to a new experience. As an example, Murray in Boston (older senior now retired, 30 years and counting) told me that he’d just returned from a language school in Aix en Provence where he took French classes for two weeks. He’d go to class in the mornings, lunch with classmates, take a nap, do homework and then try out a different restaurant every night for dinner — all for the fun of being in a new place and learning a language. He said offhandedly, “Maybe next year I’ll go to Lisbon and learn some Portuguese.” His motive is simply to have some experiences, not mastery.
I love this idea of not getting caught with unfinished business. For example I’ve always thought that I need to return to some activities and skills because I’d gotten rusty, such as playing the piano or speaking Spanish. Yet, mastery is a high standard and takes prioritizing with time and practice, which means I put them off for “some day when I have more time.” This idea of simply trying things out has opened up a whole new world of permission: Instead of rewarming my Spanish, I could learn German or Arabic! Instead of restarting the piano, I could take lessons to play a guitar or recorder. You know they’ll be complementary somehow… wouldn’t it be fun to find out how.
Perhaps you’re just a quarter turn away from where you want to be?
Here’s to trying a little twist this week,