An Evening with mr. mccullough…

 

davidmccullough

 

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing David McCullough speak at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he is perhaps one of the most popular writers of American history today.  Some of his most famous works include Truman and John Adams, both of which received Pulitzer prizes.  He has a new book coming out next week entitled The Greater Journey about American artists in Paris during the 1800s.  Needless to say, he is quite an accomplished writer of history.

What I enjoy most about him, however, is his approach to history.  All of his books treat history as a narrative or story, which it is.  He describes historical figures in fascinating detail, making them as human and as real as anyone we would interact with today.  He aims to move the reader with these true stories, in the same way that a piece of art would.  Since he holds no formal degrees, his writing is never aimed at the academic circles.  It’s meant for the people.

So much of what he said last night rang true for me.  I won’t go into all of what he said, but a few things struck me.  At one point, he began talking about the poor state of history being taught in schools.  This certainly applies for all subjects in our education system currently, but history seems to be one of the most grievous examples.  He shared the story of a girl, currently a sophomore in college, who came up to him at the end of one of his talks.  She thanked him for coming to speak, and shared that she had never known until that evening that the thirteen colonies were on the East Coast.  In another case, a college group had no idea who George C Marshall (of the Marshall Plan) was. 

He didn’t place the blame on the students, or even on the teachers.  He placed the blame on “all of us”, which seemed to me to indicate parents and families.  If history is never discussed at home, if historic sites are never visited, if children aren’t growing up in an atmosphere where a sense of the importance of history is emphasized, those kids will take it to be the dry subject of their textbooks.  Clearly, the problem lies with the teaching as well.  If teachers aren’t passionate or very knowledgeable about the subject they teach, kids will continue to remain unimpressed and bored.  The essence of history isn’t names or dates.  It’s human at its core, and the excitement of history has to be “caught” from good teachers who want their students to thrive. 

The evening helped to clarify my own personal focus on history as well.  As some of you know, I’m in the process of pursuing an MA in history, but I’m still not crazy about the idea of teaching or entering the academic world.  I want to present history to people in a way that they will be touched by it, like many are touched by Mr. McCullough’s work.  In academia, there is such a strong emphasis put on the need of “furthering the discipline”, which partly consists of complex historiographical arguments that most ordinary people would have no interest in.  Those arguments are meant for the private circle of historians and not for the layman.  While I personally do find those arguments fascinating, the subject of history is so much more than this.  If I have to present history within the parameters or framework of an educational bureaucracy, will I still be able to make history alive and exciting to students or to anyone? 

After Mr. McCullough’s talk, he sat down for a book signing.  I rushed out and grabbed a copy of Truman, the one biography of his I haven’t read, and got in line.  After about 30 minutes or so, I stood near the table and sorted out in my mind what I would say.  I decided beforehand that I would try and ask him one brief question if I could.  I approached the table, and he smiled as we both exchanged hellos.  I thanked him for his work, and then asked him the question.

 

“If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to write history for a living, what would it be?”

 

His response:  “Just start doing it!”

He grinned, saying that I should find a subject that is fascinating to me, that very little has been written on, and begin researching and writing.  He said that it would be wise to find a subject where plenty of primary sources exist, so that I have the evidence and support to back up my story.  I was aware of this, since primary sources are basically History 101, but it was still good to hear him confirm it. 

All in all, I have to admit that I was a bit starstruck and awed by the fact that he took the time to answer my question.  A long line of fans waited behind me, but he gave a thorough answer without simply brushing me off.  Pretty great.

I left the Granada Theatre thankful for the experience I had.  It confirmed in me that my love for American history is still just as alive and vibrant as it ever was.  It also reminded me of my strong belief that history doesn’t belong to a small group of historians.  It belongs to all of humanity.

Thankful.

It struck me today that I can be far too morose and serious for my own good at times.  I tend to become far too concerned about long term issues, like what my career is going to be, and I forget about the stuff going on presently that I can be happy about.  There’s certainly a time for being serious and thinking about long term plans, but there’s a problem when fear and worry start to become the dominant emotions associated with those things.  I’ve found myself at that point lately, and this morning after praying a pathetic I-hate-Monday-mornings prayer I felt a distinct reminder from God of all the things I could be thankful for.  They are as follows:

1.  GOD

2.  My family – having a family that loves you and supports you no matter what is something that I hope I never take for granted. 

3.  My friends – I have some of the greatest, most talented friends in the world…I really mean that.  I feel honored to know them.

4.  My fat beagle Chuck – sure he’s overweight, but I don’t hold that against him.  We give him far too many treats for his own good, so it’s really my fault partly.  He always listens to me whine about how hard my day was, and he’s always loyal.  He never judges or condemns…only sniffs and licks.

5.  My library of books – At this point I don’t think I’ll ever catch up on the amount of reading I need/want to do.  I have books on my shelves that I haven’t even cracked open yet.  But they rest there, waiting for me to turn their pages.  I joke that I’m storing up books for the inevitable Fahrenheit 451-esque apocalypse.  I’m only half-joking.

6.  Food – I never want for a meal.  There are millions in the world who go each day without sustenance of any kind, so I should count it all joy as I take a bite of TV dinner.

7.  Shelter – I have a home to live in.  Granted, it’s my parents’ home…and I want to be self-sufficient and living on my own…but I still have a home.  I’m not in a car or under an overpass.

8.  Technology – I have a laptop, an Android smartphone, a Kindle, and several video game systems (most of which I never use, I might add).  I take all of this junk for granted….and it could all be made useless with one massive power outage. 

9.  My education – Regardless of what statistics say, it is still a GREAT thing to have a college education.  A bachelor’s degree might not mean what it once did, but it’s still a far superior education than many people receive.

10.  My job – I have a job.  I can’t say I love it….but…I have a job.

 

This list, of course, is not exhaustive. 

With so much negativity in the news, it’s easy to become pessimistic.  I fall into this constantly….but then, like today, I begin thinking on the things above.  It doesn’t mean the problems magically go away, because they don’t.  There are still big issues to deal with.  But when I do face them, I can remember this:  “But God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind.”  2 Tim 1:7

God is so much greater than any problem I can imagine.  And He has given me far more in this life than I can even remember to be thankful for.

the fear of beginning.

Steven Pressfield, author of the brilliant book The War of Art, argues in that particular book that all creative artists encounter this thing that he labels “the resistance”.  Basically, it’s anything that keeps us from doing the work that we love.  It often comes in the form of procrastination.  The resistance knows that if it can get us to put off the work that we need to do, there’s a good chance we’ll never come around to doing it.  It will also feed you lies that your work is not good, will never be good, and what’s the point anyway.  He states in the book that the force of the resistance often gets stronger as we get closer to doing what we NEED to do. 

Why do I mention this, you ask?  Well, because I’m encountering it right here. 

The process of writing really isn’t that hard.  You sit down at the keyboard and begin hitting the keys with your fingers.  Most people can do that with little or no thought, forming words and sentences as they think of them.  The hard part, however, is beginning.  How do you arrive at the point before starting your first sentence?  You grumble and moan about the work, about the million other responsibilities that require your attention, end up getting distracted, and never start that first sentence.  And this is how the resistance wins. 

I’m realizing that creativity isn’t bestowed upon us gently.  It requires perspiration and finger-numbing work.  This might sound completely obvious, but it’s funny how often we fool ourselves into thinking that genius is going to appear simply by magic.  We must work at it.

I’m convinced that social networks have contributed to us becoming infinitely more distractable.  The Internet is one large looming distraction, and because we typically do our work on a computer with a browser icon glowing in our faces, we are constantly tempted to jump online.  I’ve found this true in my experience, as I check out the status updates of friends on Facebook rather than cranking out the daily writing I’ve “committed” to.  The core of this is merely a matter of discipline…I need to set a writing goal each day and fight to meet that goal…whether it’s 4 pages or 4 paragraphs.

In the end, though, this isn’t just about creative endeavors.  We delay beginning anything, because beginning means changing.  Change is hard, and therefore we resist.  I’m as fearful of change as anyone, but that fear only holds us back from being the artists and humans that we should and can be. 

Our world needs passionate people right now, who are willing to work hard at the things they love and bless others with those talents.  Whether your passion is writing, painting, or something else entirely, we are all capable of producing great work.  It just depends if we’re ready to begin.

TItle unknown.

Gee whiz…what am I going to write about today?

A little disclaimer: the post you are about to read may contain incessant rambling due to writer’s block.

I insist on writing, even when I don’t know what I’m going to write.  Even when I don’t feel like writing.  This is the way we get better at things, after all.  We do them when we don’t feel like it.

I’m in the middle of applying for grad school.  It’s weird to think that I might be back in school as soon as the fall, after being in the working world for the past 3 years.  I’m extremely excited, but also nervous.  Do I still have the focus and discipline after all this time?  Can I still write a good paper?  Can I manage my time effectively?

It will certainly be an adjustment from my current lifestyle, which is fairly relaxed despite working 40 hours a week.  I will have to find a new balance.  I certainly won’t be able to tackle the 20 books that I’m currently trying to read.

Here it is…I’m hitting writer’s block again.  Time for a new subject!

I can’t stand the phrase “I know, right?”.  It’s such an annoying phrase for me.  Why?  Perhaps it’s the fact that it makes no logical sense.  If you’re telling someone that “You know”, it means you understand what they’re saying.  But as soon as you add the “…right?” to it, it’s like you’re asking for permission.  You need permission to say that you agree with something?  It’s like asking them to agree with the fact that you’re agreeing with them.  It makes no sense.

This leads to a bigger problem.  The fact that many people often pay little or no attention to the words they use.  For example, someone might make a statement like “I’m literally starving”.  That person, of course, is not starving.  They are most likely just hungry. 

Proper grammar is also important in email.  Unfortunately, I’ve had so many incidents at work where an email is received that makes absolutely no sense.  This then requires me to email the person back and clarify what is being said.  I will then get a reply that answers most of the questions but is still sufficiently vague to require yet another message from me.  These are the things that bring down businesses.

I try not to be critical…in fact, I try to be as helpful as possible at work.  But needless to say…these things bother me.

Subject change….AGAIN…

There’s this cool little band called Foo Fighters….you might of heard of them….

Well, they just released a new album a few days ago, and I have to say it’s pretty rockin’.  You kind of have to be into the hard rock sort of thing, but they’ve been mighty impressive lately.  I was never huge on them, but the new album is really great.  The song below, Walk, is one of my favorites.

And that’s where I’ll stop for tonight.  Sorry for the rambling nature…but I had to get a post out.

Friends + Theatre

I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in Santa Barbara with some very good friends from college.  What was the occasion, you ask?  Well, one of those friends was putting on a play.  And if you know anything about me, you know that I can never turn down great theatre.

This friend, whose name is Casey, and his merry little band of thespians called Ratatat Theatre Group put on quite a show as always.  The piece was entitled Roses, and it was the culmination of work done around the writings of Gertrude Stein and Richard Foreman, with a bit of personal documentary thrown in.  The subject matter dealt with the issue of noise in everyday life, and the feelings of being trapped in monotonous routines.  In the words of its tagline, it aimed to “find a clear signal in the noise of modern life”.  I wonder how many recent college grads can identify with that one…I know I can.

The play was at times zany and farcical, while at other times honest and heartfelt.  The moments of honesty came during a section which ran throughout the piece, where the cast members commented on the origin of their names.  This was most striking the first time it happened, since it takes the audience off guard when a cast member directly addresses the audience out of character.  It breaks the fourth wall and creates a familiarity between the actor and the audience.  It gave the play as a whole a much more human character.  During these moments, the play went from being a “spectator sport” to being sort of an interactive documentary.  It also left room for the question which came up later in a humorous discussion…is a play still a play if it recognizes itself as such?

The play was made up of a series of vignettes, one of which comically featured all four cast members with large cardboard boxes covering them.  They staggered around onstage, visually representing the closed boxes we might see ourselves in at times.  They eventually peeked out, with their arms poking out of the sides. 

Another vignette which left an impression for me featured the cast reading from long lists of daily routines, beginning with the wake up alarm and preparing for work, ending with watching favorite TV shows and going to bed.  It was troubling how much these lists reflected my own daily routine.  Has every one of my days been that prescribed lately?  The egg timer being used rang at the end of each reading, and the actors tucked the lists neatly into their breast pockets.

There were some moments that represented a Monty Python skit, like a discussion of whether a table onstage was a REAL table or merely the representation of a table.  Nolan Hamlin, one of the actors in Ratatat, played these scenes up with his incredible facial expressions and crazy body language.  Many of the discussions were so ridiculous in their philosophical absurdity that the audience couldn’t help but laugh. 

Sometimes it was hard for me to see how these vignettes connected with one another.  In and of themselves, they were fine…but both I and a friend struggled to find the connection between sorting out distractions in life and the attempt to define words/terms.  This was where the documentary aspect of the show really helped.  It was a flotation device in a sea of hilarious nonsense.  We can identify with those on the stage who are themselves figuring out their identity.  We all have a name, and we all have a history behind that name that informs our lives.

I was proud of my friend Casey, and the whole cast of Ratatat.  They’re consistently creating exciting and thought provoking theatre in the Santa Barbara area, and it’s always a joy to see them. 

In closing, I had to mention another highlight of the evening.  The building where we saw the play featured a bathroom designed like a cave, and it was by far one of the coolest bathrooms I’ve seen.  Moody, tinted lighting gave it a 1960s vibe, and I’m convinced that hidden somewhere in there is a passage to another time or place.  I wanted to see the play, however….otherwise, I would have gladly stepped through the wormhole. 

Passion.

There’s a well-known cover of Leonard Cohen’s popular song Hallelujah sung by Jeff Buckley, and I actually just discovered it recently.  I had been aware of the song, and I was also aware of the multitude of covers by various artists, but most agree that Jeff Buckley’s version ranks as one of the best.  Some would say even better than Cohen’s original.

I think Buckley’s cover of this song is probably one of the most beautiful recordings I’ve heard of any piece of music.  From the very first note, it’s as if this song was waiting for Buckley to start singing it.  You can just hear the passion in his voice.  I don’t know the story behind why he chose to sing it for his one and only album entitled Grace, but he nailed it.  Sadly, he passed away in an accidental drowning at age 30, and it’s impossible for us to know what other great songs he might have gone on to record.

But that song, that recording, will always be there.  It’s a lasting memory for the millions and millions who have heard it to hold onto.  It captures the passion of someone doing something he loves.

I believe we are all searching for that…the thing that we wake up in the morning excited to do.  We’re restless to find it…at least I am.  If we could only discover that thing that we love doing, that makes a difference.  We can’t be content sitting behind a desk pushing papers because we weren’t made for that…that isn’t our calling.  We still haven’t found what we’re looking for, in the words of U2.

I don’t mean to say that the practical realities of life are unimportant, because they are.  We all have bills to pay and must ultimately answer to the man, whoever that man is.  But this should never be a barrier to our creativity, our passions, or our joy.  Whatever medium it comes in, whether it’s writing or theatre or painting or something else entirely…we must pursue it. 

Book Addiction.

I have an addiction to books.  It’s severe, and I’m unfortunately beyond all hope.  You see, when I enter a bookstore, I inevitably leave with a book..or two.  There never ceases to be some new book that looks completely fascinating to me, and I just can’t resist.

I will attempt to document this addiction here, so that both you and I might understand it further.  It might be a good idea to first examine the myriad of books currently stacked next to my bed.  I will give the title and author of the book, and then talk about what inspired me to read it.

1.  A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – this was a recent purchase of mine, based upon the high praise it has received of being among Hemingway’s best work.  It documents his time in Paris after the First World War, and his experiences living and writing there amongst many other famous personalities like Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald.  His descriptive prose of Paris during that time really transports you there, and you see what he was seeing.  My reason for reading it stems from the fact that I’ve never read any Hemingway.  Reason enough.

2.  The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis – A collection of Lewis’ essays, on a variety of topics.  I’m mostly through it, but Lewis can be so deep at times that I have to reread passages over and over to fully get what he’s saying.  So far, probably the most rewarding book I’ve read by him.  I have a lifetime goal of reading all of his work, so this is me striving for that.

3.  Poke the Box by Seth Godin – I mentioned this one yesterday, but it’s an excellent book on “shipping” your project, whatever project or goal that might be.  Sometimes all it takes is initiative and going for it, and this short little 70-pager encourages you to take the big leap.

4.  Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris – The second volume in Edmund Morris’ trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt.  This particular volume covers Roosevelt’s years as president.  Teddy has always fascinated me, as a man and as a president.  His “can do” attitude, conquering asthma and sickness through rigorous exercise as a child, is quite inspiring.  He was the first president to use his presidential authority as a “bully pulpit”, engaging the American people.  He was very much an anti-trust president, though it’s interesting to see how his views on that changed during his time in office.  I’m loving reading about his life…and for those of you who might not know me as well, I tend to study all things US history.

5.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. I by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I had never read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories until a few months ago, when I began reading this collection.  What inspired me to start was the new BBC series Sherlock, which is a modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes adventures.  I cannot recommend the series highly enough, since it is a faithful adaptation of Doyle’s original idea of Holmes.  The 3 episodes are each 1 and a half hours, with more episodes coming this fall.  Reading about Sherlock’s “science of deduction” has inspired me to be more observant of my own surroundings.  It is remarkable how much you notice in life when you just pay attention to the details.

6.  The Gift by Lewis Hyde – this one was given to me by a friend for my birthday, and it deals with artists and how they present their gifts to the world.  I’m particularly interested in the implications of this idea for the theatre world, as I know my friend is.  How should theatre be presented to the public in a way that benefits them without becoming an entirely commercial endeavor?  How is this balanced with the need for the theatre company to make money in order to continue practicing their gifts?  Since I haven’t finished the book, I don’t yet know what Hyde’s answer to these questions are…but the ideas that the book presents are compelling.

7.  East of Eden by John Steinbeck – I’ve loved Steinbeck’s writing ever since reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school.  He’s able to evoke the American wilderness with his words in such a picturesque and detailed way.  I feel bad about this one though, because I’ve stopped reading East of Eden as I’ve begun to get more absorbed in these other books.  The book is great so far, but my attention has been wandering as of late.

8.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – this was recommended to me by another friend, and it happens to be one of the most acclaimed books of 2010.  A true story of an African American woman, who died of cervical cancer, with cells that continue to live on in vaccines, aiding in gene mapping, and being used by billions.  This is the most recent book I’ve picked up, and it will also likely be the first that I finish.  I’m cracking it open tonight, and I can’t wait to learn more about this story.  A collision of ethics, race, and medicine, as the back of the book suggests.

 

Those are just the books sitting by my bed.  There are several more on my bookshelves that I haven’t even cracked open yet.  And this is the problem!  I will buy books before finishing others.  I will start to read books, discover another book, and start reading that one instead.  I will be 25% through with several books, and yet start another.  I cannot be stopped.

Is this simply a lack of attention?  I don’t think so, since I’m fully engaged with a book once I’m reading it.  I also don’t think it’s entirely about me wanting to build a grand library someday, though that’s surely a small part of it.  I think it might just be that my interests are constantly swinging in all different directions like some crazed monkey.  I want to be in all places at once, reading all things at once…and this results in huge stacks of books and me reading nothing.

 

Please…help me?

distracted.

Lately I’ve felt endlessly distracted.  Whether it’s the 15 books I’m trying to get through, all of the shows I’m watching, my cell phone beeping at me, the infinite news cycle, applying to grad schools, staying in touch with friends…it all adds up.  And we can only do so much.

One of my favorite times of the day has recently become the short window of time between getting ready for bed and actually going to sleep.  During this period of time, I’ll do some of my reading and reflect on the day.  I’ve realized that part of the reason I like this time is the silence.  It’s one of the only times of the day, apart from waking, when I can hear myself think.  There’s no TV on, no music demanding my attention…just me and my thoughts.  I’ve found that this is indeed the time that I think most clearly.

Maybe part of the reason that our stress levels are so high, that we never feel like we’re making any forward progress, is that we never stop to think and reflect anymore.  This might be why I’ve returned to writing.  It’s a neutral spot where I can pause and attempt to break down into words what I’m thinking.  It helps me to know where I’m at mentally, and where I want to go next.

This isn’t a slam against technology or the endless entertainments that we all enjoy and take part in.  I enjoy them as much as anyone.  But if we never stop to catch our breath or take some time away from the distractions, we might just lose sight of who we are and what really matters.  I’m also not advocating that we all become hermits and isolate ourselves from community.  We need to be around other people.  But I think we can all afford a few minutes or an hour to ourselves, in contemplation and reflection.

I’m going to exercise this idea by starting on a writing project very soon.  It might be a short story, a play, or something else…I haven’t really decided yet.  But it will be my “neutral zone”, where I can work on something I’m passionate about.  I just can’t let distractions get in the way of my passions.

PS – I’m currently reading the book Poke the Box by Seth Godin.  It’s an excellent book on taking the initiative in life and doing the projects that you’re passionate about.  You can get a copy here:  Poke the Box

PPS – I would love feedback on these posts, if you have any thoughts or ideas.  I’m thinking of making the above book recommendation a regular feature…either recommending a book, a piece of music, a film, or something else that’s inspiring me lately.  Let me know!

Back to writing…

I’m returning to the keyboard after a long hiatus.  I think it’s best that I begin to exercise my writing muscle again, given that I will soon be doing quite a bit of it in grad school.

I always struggle with what to write about.  There’s so much going on in the world today that I could comment on…the horrible natural disaster in Japan, the conflict in Libya, our debt crisis here at home.  But I feel like there are so many talking about these topics already.  Will my voice really add anything to those discussions?

Rather than talking about all of those very important issues…I’d like to talk about books and the decline of the bookstore.

Recently, I discovered that my local Borders bookstore was going out of business.  This is just one in a series of Borders stores that have begun closing their doors, after the company declared bankruptcy.  Evidently, the bookstore chain had been experiencing sharp declines in sales, which is hardly a surprise to me.  The rise of e-reading devices like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook have begun to make physical paper books look a bit dated to some people.  Many people also buy their books online through Amazon or another service, eliminating the need to go to a physical store.  This begs the question…are bookstores about to become extinct?

I hope not.  The bookstore, to me, represents something more than a place of sale.  Bookstores have the promise of being a place where communities can gather to share their love of the written word.  This has only been encouraged by the introduction of cafes to many bookstore chains, which entices the book lover to sit and stay a while, enjoying a coffee while reading.  You see a mixture of students, business types, and older patrons sitting there, sharing the same space, both relaxing and studying.  While the bookstore’s main goal as a business is to make a sale, it has adopted the added goal of creating a safe space for individuals to come and read their books.  You could even sit down and read an entire book if you wanted to!  I’ve begun to see bookstores almost as a community space, an area where people with like interests can gather and share thoughts and ideas.

You might say that libraries serve this purpose.  I would argue that the atmosphere of libraries, while extremely conducive to studying, are not the best places for relaxation and discussion about a good book.  The need to be quiet in respect of others nearby eliminates the possibility of fully engaging with someone about a topic. 

But then the question comes…what point is a bookstore if no one reads physical books anymore?  I have a feeling that the bookstore may indeed be going the way of the record store, sadly.  There will still be a few of the stores around, and they will remain there for the collectors.  For those of us who simply can’t live without a specific edition of a classic in hardcover.  I just don’t see the demand there for the printed word anymore.  This grieves me deeply, because I believe that much of the joy of reading, at least for me, comes from interacting with the printed physical page. 

I am a collector of books.  I sometimes dream of my future library, filled with rows and rows of books that I’ve owned for years…each with its own personal meaning.  And that’s the other thing…a physical book carries meaning for the reader in a way that no e-book can.  I can often remember what I was thinking when I first picked up a certain book, what inspired me to get it, what I thought after I first read it.  How does a Kindle capture that?

I admit that I do own a Kindle.  My justification for it, however, is that there are times when I want to carry more than one book with me.  There are also instances when the book isn’t something I want to physically own in my library…I will read it once and simply be done with it.  For everything else, I’ll pick up a physical copy.  Simple as that. 

What is the future of the book?  I don’t claim to know.  I can only hope that the physical book lives on, even in our digital age.

New Things.

I've come to the decision to pursue graduate school in history.  I've been debating it for some time, but I feel that this is where God is leading me right now.  

It's funny how things come into focus as soon as we have a goal to aim at.  Without something to strive toward, we tend to wander or get side-tracked on more minor things.  That's how I've felt for the past few months leading up to now.  It's so good to have this singular focus again, probably for the first time since college.

I've also decided to work on a podcast.  I have a new microphone for it, the software I need, everything is ready to go...the problem is, I haven't done it yet.  Too distracted with other things.  I hate to admit it, but I can be a horrible procrastinator at times.   

Here's the deal...I've come to realize that things don't get done until you strap yourself in and just do them.  That may sound simplistic, but I really think it's true.  I have a stack of 10+ books next to my bed, all partially read.  I have films I still need to watch.  I want to start going to a gym to get back in shape.  The problem is that simply having the knowledge that I need to do all of these things has an end result of me doing NONE of them.  I'm flitting between one thing and the next, never fully committing to finishing that one thing I'm currently on.

What is this called?  Is this simply a lack of focus?  Is it the fact that I'm interested in doing so much, and I'm limited by the time in which to do it?  It is true that I have wide and varied interests, but I don't think that's it.  I think it's really because I'm avoiding the hard work that comes with fully committing to something.  This blog is a perfect example of that, for obvious reasons.  I've left it untended for several months now!

It's time for a change.  In order for my work to get done, I have to commit to doing the hard stuff every single day.  It isn't always pleasant or fun, but it's the only way to make forward progress.  I need to record that first podcast, however bad it might turn out....because it's only then that I can move onto the second one.