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The pressure, intent and passion for honing and creating pulsates through the veins of every creative mind. Jane Hirshfield painted a picture of what practice look and feels like when she said:

“Violinists practicing scales and dancers repeating the same movements over decades are not simply warming up or mechanically training their muscles. They are learning how to attend unswervingly, moment by moment, to themselves and their art; learning to come into steady presence, free from the distractions of interest or boredom.”

– Jane Hirshfield

The artists life is that of unswerving attendance. Only through genuine prescence can one articluate what it is to be alive. Repetition is not the practice, it is a symptom of dedication and focus; of the resistance of interest or boredom.

Finally, Australia is seeing the impacts of COVID-19 fade away.

Schools are open, sports are back on and (even though we not seem far more attentive to each other’s personal space) people are able to gather safely.

Life is returning to new normal. There’s something refreshing about that.

Meetings are the bane of productivity; they allow participants to feel like they’re getting things done, even when they’re not.

Meetings belong to the person who called the meeting. Usually, the person who calls a big meeting feels great afterwards becuase they got to say everything they felt they needed to say.

The question is: did everyone else in the room really need to hear it?

Too often, that answer is no.

I played my first soccer game tonight, filling in on a friend’s team in a community futsal league.

The team we played weren’t that good, but they were leagues better than us. A couple of them clearly had some fundamentals, a couple of us played when we were eight (me not being one of them, unfortunately).

We fought hard to the final whistle, even though the referee had stopped tallying their score on the board, “there’s no need to put any more up,” he said to me off the court.

Learning how to lose is perhaps the clearest sign of growing up. We’ll be back next week, and if we don’t score a goal, we will in the next one.

It never is. You always have until the last whistle, or the final point.

Even when that final moment doesn’t go your way, even when you lose in the most embarrassing fashion, there is always the next game (for as long as you continue to play).

The game only stops when you do. Stop after a loss, and you lose; persist, and you might just be that little sharper next game.

The stories we tell ourselves aren’t always accurate – especially those in which we play either a hero or a villian. The truth is always more complex (and more painful) than ‘I was right’ or ‘I was wrong’.

By externalising the dominant narratives we tell ourselves we can get a glimpse into how the story might read from the perspective of others. This is hard, because our own biases are always the loudest, but it is possible.

Externalising and identifying these narratives opens up the opportunity for us to deconstruct them; to challenge the dominant tale from all angles in an effort to adapt or solidify our own.

There’s a game to be played in every lousy job you’ve ever had to do. How quick can you do it? How many can you get done? What’s the most efficient possible iteration of the task?

Games are fun when their challenge is within reach, but isn’t easy. Pulling weeds sucks, but pulling two bags of weeds in under ten minutes could be fun.

What are the three things you’ve put off for too long?

How can you turn them into games?

Change happens; it always will. Sometimes, that change is going to knock your feet out from under you.

When you fall, you have multiple variations of two options: brace, tense up and protect your vitals; or roll, committing to the momentum of your fall.

Bracing limits your risk of serious pain, but almost guarantees a rough landing.

Tumbling leaves you vulnerable, but comes with an opportunity to spring back to your feet immediately.

Which are you more inclined to do?

Is your default a limitation?

An editor’s page can look like a flurry of red hacks and slashes, the margins stacked with firm suggestions and agressive questions. Or, it can look like a gentle number of subtle suggestions, egging the writer in the right direction. The ideal mark-up probably looks like something in between.

The power a red pen can have when pointed at something sacred, something which a writer has poured their sweat and blood into, is immense.

It must be weilded with kindness and a firm respect for everything the work could possibly become.

We can offer each other nothing more valuable than the absolute assurance of our support.

Unless you’re in a film, this rarely happens verbally. Anyone who feels the need to regularly reiterate that they have your back, probably doesn’t (or doesn’t know how).

The trust required to assure someone that you’re truly there for them can only be realised through action; a kind of consistent, genuine and careful love which radiates inevitability. It is impossible to sustain authentic trust through inconsistent love; the kind which rages, scorching those too close, and dwindles when things gets too hard.

The result of finding and sustaining this kind of trust is perhaps the most valuable gift we have to give: it’s warm, knowing feeling; one of security, one of home.