Abra Kadabra Alakazam.
The practice is the consistent effort that the craftsman trades for insights produced by the craft. The practice does not just take; it gives back.
Consistent engagement with any craft reveals a new world to the craftsman. This is the world of the craft, and it is filled with wisdom. It allows the craftsman to explore and discover parts of themselves that they never knew existed.
The world of the craft produces lessons, and they materialize as metaphors for life. They exist within a microcosm but are as relevant and applicable to the outside world as they are in the world of the craft.
Lesson #1 – Show up
The artist must find her way to the easel, the carpenter to the workshop, and songwriter to the studio. Through years of practice, the craftsman realizes that showing up is the most difficult part.
To show up, she must fight the forces of resistance, which are relentless. These forces come up with creative ways to derail her. They appeal to her fears, lethargy, and lower self. They say things like, “you can do it later,” “you deserve a break,” “you are tired.” The most challenging part for the craftsman is to decipher which voice is hers and which voice belongs to resistance.
To show up, not just today, but every day, is the war every craftsman must perpetually strive to overcome. Overcoming resistance is the gift and constantly having to fight it is the curse. Like Sisyphus, the craftsman must move the same rock up the same hill over and over.
Lesson #2: Show out
The craftsman understands that when they do show up, more often than not, they are happy that they did.
If you have ever felt like staying in when all your friends were rallying to get you to go out, you know how good it feels when you end up having an amazing time and you feel grateful that you didn’t miss out.
That gratitude gives us extra energy and vigor that allows us to show out. Whether that’s at the bar, on the dancefloor, or with someone we just met, stealing back moments and experiences makes us feel alive.
By extending ourselves beyond our comfort zones, new possibilities become available to us. There are many times the craftsman does not feel like starting, but when they do, they realize they have stolen back their moment. Showing out then flows naturally and stopping becomes the hard part.
Lesson #3 Follow the breadcrumbs
Every craft tests the craftsman’s faith. This is one of the most magnetic features of the practice and becomes a primary reason that the craftsman continues to return.
When the craftsman begins his daily work, he may have an idea, a concept, or a general direction that he would like to pursue but he never fully knows where he is going to end up. As he continues his practice, new pathways and connections are made that guide him towards something whole and complete.
By returning to the place of mystery repeatedly, the craftsman begins to strengthen his faith and in turn strengthen his soul. Every craftsman must learn to follow the breadcrumbs which becomes a testament to his trust in the world and therefore, trust in himself.
Lesson #4 – Think deeply
All crafts require a high-level of problem solving. Solving problems through crafts warrants the craftsman to philosophize deeply.
She must contemplate a multitude of factors that are interrelated to better understand why a problem exists in the first place.
She must map it out and repeatedly dissect it until she is able to gain a new perspective. Once her deliberation is complete, she must use her craft to express her findings. Her expression relieves her from the torment of not knowing the answer to a problem. Once she has the answer, she can temporarily find peace until the next problem presents itself to her.
Lesson #5 Better for it
Not every piece of work that the craftsman creates is equally imaginative or challenging… but some ask for more. They ask for a piece of the craftsman and it is up to him to oblige. Some projects are there to sharpen his skills and others require him to tie all of them together.
For a writer, there are paragraphs that flow freely but sentences that they must wrestle with for hours. For a carpenter, larger pieces of wood peel off with ease, however the finer trimmings may require days of painstaking labor.
During these moments, the craftsman questions if he can do it, whether he can find a way around it, or whether it just makes more sense to cut that part out entirely. But he knows that if he cuts it out, the piece of work will be worse for it and so will he. It is the responsibility and duty of the craftsman to persevere through that. Those are the moments that define the level of his practice.
Over time, the craftsman gets better. Their ability to finish a project quickens, and they start to see tendencies or traits that are repetitive and that they need to let go off.
When we are on the field of the craft, the craftsman can see their tendencies in action, and this provides them with an opportunity to correct or adjust them.
#6 Birth it
Every time the craftsman finishes a piece of work, she gives way for something new to emerge. This is why she works tirelessly to the point of completion. She knows as she approaches the finish line, something new and fresh awaits her.
The craftsman does her best to be in the moment but as she draws closer to completing a project, she is already licking her lips, ready to savor the next project that excites her, pulls her in, and reminds her why she does what she does. She does what she does because it is who she is.
The craftsman loves the craft, but even more so, they are in love with the practice. For the craftsman, the practice brings order into a world of chaos, peace into a world of war, and life into a world worthy of love.