Your best work...
On Feb 2, this year, I posted a blog (on my "other" site) called Chuang Tsu on Writing. The post was written around Chuang Tsu's parable, A Way Of Working. In the post, I paraphrased the parable, rewriting it specifically for writers.
The key passage from Chuang Tsu's story is:
“Your Highness,” said the carpenter, “there is no secret; but there is something. This is how I begin. When I am about to make a table, I first collect my energies and bring my mind to absolute quietness. I become oblivious of any reward to be gained or any fame to be acquired. When I am free from the influences of all such outer considerations, I can listen to the inner voice which tells me clearly what I have to do. When my skill is thus concentrated, I take up my ax; I make sure that it is perfectly sharp, that it fits my hand and swings with my arm. Then I enter the forest. I look for the right tree: the tree that is waiting to become my table. And when I find it, I ask: ‘what have I for you, what have you for me?’ Then I cut down the tree and set to work. I remember how my masters taught me to bring my skill and my thought into relation with the natural qualities of the wood.”
For as long as I can remember, I've carried a copy of the parable with me, to remind me that I have a single purpose - to be the best that I can be. Anything that takes my focus from that, is an unacceptable diversion.
Recently I read a blog post by Seth Godin, that concluded with this line:
"Plenty of places to run, plenty of places to hide. None of them are as important as shipping your best work today." Seth Godin - Do You Have Three Minutes?
Obviously that is the same thought passing through Seth Godin's mind, over 2,000 years after it passed through Chuang Tsu's mind. A Way Of Working, which is an account of a carpenter explaining the exemplary quality of his work to the king, concludes with this line:
- Your total focus
- Your complete dedication to the task at hand
- Your lack of motive (or judgment) in performing the task
Yes Elizabeth, it is just that simple ~~~ yesterday, today, and forever.