Guest post from Mystie Winckler
Awhile back I was listening to NPR in the car, and they were speaking to a musician. I can’t find the segment and I don’t remember exactly what she said, but she was talking about the willingness to accept that the drudgery of deliberate, painful, boring practice is an essential element to sucess in music. To be good at something, you have to work at it even when it is not fun or interesting or exciting. In fact, she stated that most of the time spent at the instrument will not be fun or interesting or exciting, but it is the mastery produced by all the drudge work that is satisfying.
I was alone, driving in the car, as I listened, and it struck me that her mentality is quite applicable to housekeeping. The actual practice of it is rarely interesting or fun or fulfilling, but satisfaction can be found in improvement, even when it doesn’t feel like anything is really being accomplished. Just as in homemaking, when you work to master an instrument, you very rarely get that moment of something being really completed. It is ongoing, never-arriving, always-room-for-improvement work.
Home as an Instrument, Chores as Scales: Practice Makes Good Music:
When we talk about learning to play an instrument, we assume it is worthwhile and admirable for a person to dedicate himself to mastery, especially if it is “against all odds” rather than through natural giftedness. We call such people role models or heroes or accomplished people. Yet if it is homemaking that a person attempts to master, the most praise she can expect is to be called ‘Martha Stewart’ with a somewhat derogatory undertone.
But the principle remains the same and should be an encouragement, whether or not the watching world attaches the same value.
Improvement and mastery is satisfying. Improvement and mastery takes time, deliberate intentionality, attention, work, and repetition. A majority of the time spent in the activity is dull, and maybe painful. But those who achieve greatness find the dull or painful repetition worth the end result. They look past the present difficulty and boredom to the end it is accomplishing; they look at what they were capable of a year before, see progress, are made happy and satisfied by that progress, and press on so that in another year they will see improvement again next year.
And that evaluation, rather than the in-the-moment drudgery, is where a bulk of fulfillment and happiness lies.
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