“A True Goal Needs To Become An Obsession” is one of many articles online glorifying the power of the mind over the body since the corpus “always, without fail, gives up before the mind. That’s why it takes a strong will to convince your body to keep moving forward.”
As someone who has continuously pushed physical barriers through my work as a guitar player I can say that the opposite is certainly true in my case; and I’ve grown increasingly sick of the “40 % rule” constantly being promoted all over social media. Not to mention the “mental training” literature that I’ve been adhering to for several years. My obsession with reaching a specific goal resulted in my first proper injury and I’m still on sick leave from playing virtuoso material after having “crashed into the wall,” February this year. Painful? Horrendous. I experienced what it is like to be crippled for almost 2 months as my left side was a total goner; the excruciating pain eased off gradually but came back in full swing whenever I tried to exercise and “get back into shape.” Which means that I’m still off-duty guitar-wise 6 months into the “new year.” Who would have thought?
In this article entitled ” I Became An Inspirational Meme About Work Ethic …” the author addresses the online meme culture of constantly praising those who work themselves to death. It is a topic that I’ve never really read or thought much about, but the article is spot on. Those who keep pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing are constantly glorefied, and there is certainly not a shortage of “motivational quotes” wherever one chooses to gaze, memes about injuries and/or risks to ones wellbeing are absent from the digital landscape. If you do stumble into a hurdle it is paramount to get back into the saddle as swiftly and elegantly as possible. But how healthy is this?
Probably not very much. But if you are as disciplined as myself does it matter? In a way yes. I noticed last year that I felt quite tired. There was this internal sentiment that made my subconscious self whisper about a much-needed “holiday.”
Say what? What a nasty word! There certainly is never time nor money for idleness if you are an artist. There is no such thing. Unless you’re lucky and can squeeze in a week with so-called repose, including travel days, in the course of a year or maybe mix work with a so-called “holiday” lasting a few days, which certainly isn’t enough to reinvigorate anyone.
Yet, last year I couldn’t help but to feel quite drained, fatigued in fact, as if though I needed two weeks of sleep. Mentally I guess I was tired, despite travelling to my home country only for leisure, something I hadn’t done for years. What did I do? I kept on going and when an opportunity presented itself I jumped at it, ready to go, ready to rock! I kept on pushing and was filled with enthusiasm, yet this creeping sense of fatigue was lurking in the background. The result? In December; while I was still working on this “new, secret project,” I fell ill with a horrible parasite called Crypto. God only knows where it came from, but it certainly had a devastating effect. I’ve never been that ill. My daily goals went from mastering crazy material and being at my best to be reduced to: “will I be able to eat today?”
The second that the parasite eased off, I got in touch with the local church. Maybe I could sing a little during Christmas? Why not? In retrospect the endeavour was ridiculous as I certainly was in no shape to do such things … and voilà, what presented itself? A flu … resulting in a cancellation. Of all things. Still … an energetic mind knows that rest is for losers, so the second that January kicked in I started to worry about time. Yes that beautiful concept that all efficient people hold in such high esteem. Back in the saddle! Let’s go, go, go,go! But what happened next? Horrendous shoulder pain which made it impossible for me to play. I kept away from my guitar for as long as it was painful, had a treatment and the second that I felt better – go,go,go,go,go,go,go! “The Mind Trumps All” or so they say….yet in February the aforementioned injury kicked in and this time it became obvious that I actually had to rest. Or the left arm … not the right arm.
Which meant that I compiled two books with one hand in the early months of the year, as only no-gooders do nothing with the limited time they got left.
Yet I eventually I had to stop since it caused too much unbalance. So what then? Well I directed my absolute attention towards classical singing which worked really well and brought me lots of joy until abdominal issues become so overwhelming that I had to stop and realised that maybe it was time to see a doctor. Abdominal issues? Oh yes, ever since January, but I couldn’t be bothered to investigate further as I just dismissed it as a remnant of the horrible parasite. Do you think I like to be ill? No. Do I love to sit in a queue and wait for medical appointments? No. Do I like to potentially waste people’s time? No. So I just brushed that specific pain aside, until I physically couldn’t ignore it any longer as it was getting worse. Oh yes.
So this year has panned out radically differently than how I thought it would….Lo-and-behold we are officially in the 6th month of 2017 and I guess I can officially say that I hit the wall for the first time in my life in terms of health. It has not been fun, but I guess “denial” has only made things worse, because as we all know … nothing should get in the way of the glorious hustle, not even health. Only death is a valid excuse.