Another Jelly Bean

This is totally going to be a rambling piece to get my words in.

I was reading an interesting article about training for an event. The metaphor the author use was a jelly bean and a jar. Each workout, each training session, no matter how good, bad, short, long, successful or not, was one jelly bean. The idea was that to be prepared to participate in an event, you needed to put a certain number of jelly beans in the jar.

I am definitely doing that swimming. Sure, sure, I have my epic swims like last weekend, and oh my word was it fun, but the more usual swim is the 5:30 am one where the most exciting thing I can say was that it was done. And that’s cool.

I think it also applies to other endeavors. We love flow when we are working on something we enjoy or want to improve, yes. We love to get into that zone where the words are flowing, or the sculpture we’re creating just soars. And those moments are wonderful and godlike. But unless we come to the practice of what we are doing often enough to fill our jelly bean jars, we’re not going to invite flow, nor are we going to improve.

It comes to me very strongly as I am writing these words. Honestly, I had intended to write some drivel about housework, my swimming and how I love my new coffee maker. And I was going to be a little contemptuous of it.

My practice of writing a certain amount each day as a free-write is no more worthy of contempt, though, than any swim I do, no matter how clumsy or awkward I feel as I am doing it. Both are a jelly bean in the jar — another practice session that needs to be done that not only helps to refine technique or skill, but also is another opportunity to invite flow.

So, as I am doing this free-write, I am now stuck for more to fill in those words. I hate running out of gas or running out of an idea before I hit those seven hundred fifty words, and yet it does happen a lot.

What I want to write and want to do is fill in this space with something really profound and interesting. It suits the vanity better. It’s hard to remember that to keep writing has a value in and of itself. Just like keeping swimming does when I am working out.

I think we get the idea that working out is like a Rocky or Karate Kid training montage. Those movies are fun, exciting and even inspiring, which is cool. They’re also misleading about what daily practice, the really IMPORTANT stuff, looks like. That jelly bean in the jar might very well be licorice, just saying. But it’s a jelly bean nonetheless and it takes up its proper space in the jar just as well as the orange. (Yeah, I like the citrus-flavored jelly beans best. You got me)

I’m slowly learning that dailyness might not look brilliant in the experience, but it is that very dailyness of effort or creation that does make for a body of work that looks awfully impressive when taken over time.

*grin* My husband and I are watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy this week. One of the things we sometimes do is joke during walking sequences about how it reminds us of a Dexter’s Laboratory cartoon where the ditzy sister DeeDee is the Dungeonmaster and is constantly telling the characters, “We’re walking; we’re walking; we’re walking.”

And yet, that’s exactly how Frodo got to Mount Doom. Walking, walking, walking. Walking, step by step, not always making brilliant progress, but always making at least some, and never stopping. Each day brought the Ring closer to its destruction, even though the process was hardly glorious or exciting.

And that’s something I like about what I’m doing. No, my days are not gloriously impressive. That’s not the point. The point is to keep going. The point is to make some progress, even a little. Because each time one makes progress, it’s another jelly bean for the jar.

I’m halfway tempted to buy a jar and each time I do a swim, put a jelly bean in it. *Grin* then I’ll EAT those jelly beans as part of my feeds for a long swim. Swimmers eat jelly-like candy on long swims all the time, so it would be appropriate.

The idea is oddly appealing and happy.

3 Replies to “Another Jelly Bean”

  1. I think you managed to be profound anyway. Just had to drop a comment that there’s a lot to that… you don’t have to do something exceptionally well in order to become good at it, you just have to keep doing it. Like my experience – I do a martial art called Aikido (primarily defensive and generally lower-impact). I’m not that good at it, I’m not fast, I’m not strong, I’m not quick, I have lousy reactions, and my body seems to have a faulty connection when it comes to muscle memory. But I’ve been diligently going to my classes as often as I can since 2001, and the next rank I grade for will be a black belt, something I never in a million years expected to be even the remotest possibility. Nike has something with their slogan, “Just do it.” And your jellybean analogy fits with that perfectly. Thank you.

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