Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thought for The Day - 10,000 Hours

Filtered Divinity 2 - pastels

The idea of 10,000 hours working at a task, learning and honing skills and centering one's life around a certain area, is put forth in the book "Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell. I haven't read the book yet, but hearing the concept, and the examples given of those who achieved "success," I hung my head in disgust! Here I am, at age 50, starting to do work as an artist...the recognition I hope for, the sense of accomplishment can be another 50 years coming! I wanted to give myself an out, try to count the time in youth, teen years and college days, where I did the work, made the grade and found it hard to put down the pencil or brush. But no sooner did I try "add up" the hours, I counted myself out because too many times, I other things were considered more important; that's still the case. So what am I going to do? Maybe I could be an expert at something else; what about writing or counseling? I do a lot of both, so why not another profession?

My youngest son, is an avid gamer. Never mind that a child spending time playing games as many hours as they can, it is virtually impossible to keep him from playing. Again, to most adults, the idea of a child's brain turning to mush in front of a television is such a waste. I remember when he was four and we went to a neighbor's home for a gathering. The neighbor had a room where some boys had set up a game console and were playing a video game. My son walked in the room and the look in his eyes, you would think he had met his favorite cartoon character, up close and personal. I knew the look from my own time as a child, its that look when the "spark" is lit, when whatever in us is triggered and we find "that thing." It isn't seen in every person and many people spend their lives looking for it, but I knew that could be one of his areas of interests. I don't know what his future holds, how life will develop for him, but I know this: games are his thing and I'm certain he's put in his 10,000 and then some! He plots, schemes and moves hours in a day to get his time in, often to the detriment of every other outlet and connection. But then, consider successful athletes: expertise is achieved by making the given sport the focus of every waking moment.

For me, I'm not sure I will achieve 10,000 hours. The same sense of distraction that hindered my devotion as a child, carried over into adulthood. Issues like: what other things am I supposed to be doing, who needs my help, what chores, tasks and people are calling or could call on me? I love art, I love the gift of expression and I'm certain it is a gift of God, but 10,000 hours? How about 2000?