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The list of Un-mastered Arts

I've started writing everyday. Just a little here and there - typing notes into my phone on bus trips and scribbling into scrappy notebooks late at night. A little while ago I found myself up way past my bed time writing and marvelling at how at almost 25, I am still yet to master the art of putting myself to bed on time. It got me thinking about other arts I am yet to master. I made a 2am list. 

It reads:
The art of putting myself to bed on time
The art of wearing matching socks
The art of not apologising for things out of my control
The art of keeping plans
The art of ignoring my phone
The art of talking to cute barmen
The art of getting dressed in the dark (this would be so useful considering I always sleep in)
The art of saying goodbye
The art of sticking to a skincare routine
The art of taking my own advice
The art of making a cheesecake
The art of never running short of bus money

But there are more.
The art of coping with stress without chewing through my bottom lip or fingernails
The art of smalltalk
The art of aligning my actions and allocating time with my heart
The art of exercising consistently 
The art of taking a compliment
The art of not comparing myself to others
The art of keeping plants alive
The art of calling when I say I will
The art of backing myself creatively

I call these un-mastered arts because I think there is a part of me that would really like to master them  all eventually. Best-selling author Michael Gladwell once wrote that it would take 10,000 hours to achieve an activity to the level that would rival a professional. He called it the magic number of greatness - that mastering anything was a matter of putting in the time; practice would result in proficiency. 
Which made me wonder, if I could just practice harder at mastering these arts, these sometimes trivial arts, would that make me a master? Would I have gained genius status for being master of many things (admittedly rather ridiculous things)?

Studies conducted since, would indicate that this 10,000 hour myth has been de-bunked. I have to admit I felt a little relief when I read that. Spending 10,000 hours trying to master making cheesecake sounds like a delicious and dangerous pursuit. 
Turns out there is something to be said for natural ability and personal aptitude for a certain activity. Not everyone can truly master everything - but if you are intentional and intelligent about the things you choose to master, and indeed if you put in the time and effort to master them, you are more likely to do so. 
As Scott Barry Kaufman, assistant professor of psychology at New York University, put it: 
“Everyone can’t be a genius in everything, but I’m coming around to the idea that every single person has the potential for genius in something.” - Time Magazine May 2013
I like that. Potential for genius in something. Maybe a master of something.

So I've made my list a little smaller, no less ambitious and a little more intentional. 
For the next while, I am working on mastering the following arts first: 

The art of aligning my actions and allocating time with my heart
The art of not apologising for things out of my control
The art of not comparing myself to others

They seem like the most important ones, the ones I will be proudest to master. 
Suddenly 10,000 hours sounds like too little time... I'll keep you posted.
Bedtime and bus money might have to wait. X 

P.S I'd be SO curious to hear about your un-mastered arts, the real or ridiculous things you'd like to master! Let me know?
P.P.S This article in time is worth reading re: 10,000 hours and where I sourced the quote from.


Four months of Sundays

This story begins on a Sunday.
Actually, it begins with four months of Sundays and it ends with pomegranate and a promise.
But let's try not jump ahead.

Not too long ago I filled in a form. I crossed my t's and dotted my i's and I wrote down the names of the people who would kindly vouch for my character. I went to an interview, I read the information pack and just like that, I became a volunteer. I'm fairly sure I received the confirmation on a Sunday.

Sundays have always been an important day to me, but they sure looked different a few months ago. Sundays used to be about sleeping 'till noon. They were largely spent doing as little as possible. Lazy Sundays. Easy like a Sunday morning. Sunday morning rain is falling. (how many times do you think I can write Sunday in this post?)

Six months ago I became an accredited in-home visitor for Age Concern New Zealand.
In-home visiting provides a volunteer befriending service to the elderly in hopes of easing loneliness and isolation. They provide company and a listening ear for about an hour a week.
Six months ago I met June and started visiting her weekly.
You can bet it was on a Sunday.

I think I have always like the company of older people. As a child I can  remember the old ladies from my church who used to squeeze our cheeks and marvel at how tall we were getting. Later there were old ladies who used to come into the pharmacy where I worked, always with a story to tell me.
I had an after school job at a rest home when I was sixteen. Perhaps the most formative of my experiences with the elderly, I used to spend several afternoons delivering dinners and cups of tea to the many rooms of residents. Rooms that frequently became vacant or were filled with vacant stares. Other rooms were occupied with some of the sweetest souls I have ever known. Souls that had seen more than I would ever see in my lifetime, souls that remembered my birthday and made up nicknames and still hand wrote Christmas cards despite the arthritis. These souls are long gone but I am grateful to have known them. Grateful for the job that paid pennies but exposed me to the ups and downs of ageing at an early age.

And I can't express how grateful I am to have met June.
June is one of the most interesting and beautiful souls I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
She has had the most extraordinary life, which she would humbly describe as really very ordinary.
She came from a small town, she adored her parents, she married young, she had a family of her own and in turn, kids that adored, (and no doubt still do) adore her. She has loved much and lived simply and worked hard, and she would tell you that she never really considered doing it any other way.
It took less than a month of Sundays for June to let me in. This concept in itself is so incredible to me; I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my life so far.
Because June has also lost.
She has lost friends and family and she is losing a long fight against cancer.
June is dying.
She told me six Sundays ago.