Lately I have had this word on my mind. Momentum is the product of mass and velocity of an object. I am not a physicist, nor am I going to get into the real complexities of momentum. What I do know of momentum though, is that momentum is force or speed of movement. We can gain momentum or lose it. However, it is the course of action we take that either helps us get more momentum or not.
Why is this on my brain? It starts about a month ago. I took my daughter to something called “Inside the Orchestra”. It was a brilliant event put on in Denver where children sat in a room, surrounded by an orchestra, and listened to music. During the event, a young child was asked to perform on stage. She did a stunning classical piano piece. Many of us adults were blown away. At the end of her performace, the following conversation took place.
Maestro: “How long have you been playing the piano?”
Child: “3 years.”
Maestro: “How many hours a day do you practice?”
Maestro: “How much T.V. do you watch a day?”
Child: “Only fifteen minutes.”
This small conversation stuck with me. Momentum. Just one hour a day for three years and this child plays concert piano.
We all have dreams. What are they? What did we want to be when we were little? Dancers, firefighters, veterinarians, and teachers come to mind. What inspired us to be these things? Being beautiful and graceful, helping people and animals, being heroes. Inspiring the world and making it a better place. Did we think of money as kids? Not really. We were motivated by an inner desire to do something great.
I remember being a young child and watching the movie Singing in the Rain. I was mesmerized by Gene Kelly and his tap dancing routines. I wanted to be a tap dancer! I begged my Dad for shoes and from that point on tap danced every night till I fell in exhaustion. You know what? I learned how to tap dance!
Here is what I am getting at. How often in life do we let our momentum slip because of “X” (insert your time sucker here). What priorities fall at the wayside? And what consumes our time? I am not going to pretend here that I don’t fill my spare time with wasteful activities. Facebook, unplanned shopping, television shows, laziness- these are all activities I literally spend hours doing throughout my week.
I am proposing that I often do not do what I want to do because of two reasons: fear and pride. Fear of being a beginner. I can recount many things I wanted to do but quit because I felt like I sucked at it. Running, mountain biking, rock climbing, playing instruments, learning Spanish- all of these things I have at one time quit because, deep down, I was afraid of being the newbie, looking dumb, getting hurt, or getting frustrated at my progress. Pride. Aah that sneaky and awful part of us that rears its ugly head and makes us play it safe.
Momentum. One hour a day. Three years. Balanced priorities. Fifteen minutes of television. This little girl taught me much. What is it about a child that they are eager to learn how to do things, are unafraid to get hurt (remember learning to ride a bike or jumping from your roof into the pool?), and don’t get stumped by frustration?
Fear and pride. As an adult I have learned how to master not being afraid and not getting my pride hurt. But guess what? It’s an illusion. I am living in a rigged system where no matter how safe I live I can get hurt at any moment, and God and humans are going to constantly draw me into conflicts with my pride.
I am inspired by the idea of momentum. If I let go of fear and pride and just do something I love every day, I can grow in that area. If I do something every day and start somewhere, it builds upon it self and picks up momentum. It is a force I won’t be able to stop. The knowledge gains and the joy gains at a pace that is difficult to maintain. I can learn it enough to enjoy it. And isn’t that the reason we learn to do these things? Isn’t that why as children we chose careers outside of status and money? Because as children, we do what is fun and brings joy.
I have my list: memorize the gospel, learn Spanish, write, and play guitar. Mountain bike. Rock climb. I want to do these things because they are fun, good for my heart and mind, and I do want to help spread light into this dark world. Deep down, I don’t want to do these things because I can make money off them or because they will keep me safe.
See, what I am finding is that doing things that really matter often don’t make us much money, if any at all, and often do put us in danger.
Six months ago I made a commitment to write one post a day. The bottom line is whether or not the post is good doesn’t matter. I’m writing and doing what I love. I am blocking out fear and pride. In hopes to gain momentum, practice, and get better at what I love doing. So that maybe one day I can be like that child- performing (for me- writing) works of art that inspire the hearts of people. In hopes to change the world a tiny bit.