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Learn to Wake Up

“Nap time” hits and you’re sleepy as hell. You know what I’m talking about. It’s a Thursday or Friday afternoon, you have five different projects you’re juggling at work, some monotonous, some complicated. You’re overwhelmed, and the summer sun is beating down outside as the concrete and asphalt begin to release the stored heat from the day. Yeah, NAP TIME.

If you’re like me though, you’re not the guy who’s going to lay down and call it. There’s work to be done, there’s a couple hours left till the weekend, and you handle your responsibilities. And in these situations, coffee just doesn’t seem to cut it. You know what does: BRAIN ACTIVITY. Something to really get your juices flowing. Something challenging, something creative. Something you’re actually curious about.

When I have an interesting problem to solve, something new to learn, or a need to look at something in a new light, I can rouse myself from these afternoon sleepies and not only be productive, but be engaged, and, consequently, wake the hell up. You’d be surprised what a little learning/playtime can do for your productivity in “real” work, no matter what you do.

It’s important. It’s fun. It’s good for you. It helps you be a better person. It’s good for all humanity.

You with me?

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Listen

This morning I was messing around on the piano, figuring out one of my favorite songs (Raining in Baltimore, Counting Crows). I almost had all the chords right and I started singing the verses and chorus with it to check to see if I was right. I kept doing some phrases over and over, trying this, then trying that. In the middle of doing this, I noticed a soft little voice singing behind me. It was my 5-year-old, singing her own song to the chord progression. I stopped singing but kept playing the chords, listening to her little song. I had to play softer to hear her, but I’m glad I noticed her in the background, because it was the sweetest little melody, with the silliest words; one of those rare moments as a parent you don’t want to miss.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned playing music, especially in college as a music major, is to listen. It’s something that’s easy to remember when you’re on stage, rehearsing or performing, but it’s the in-between moments we don’t always pay attention to; the little phrases of music that happen all around us every day. This experience this morning reminded me of all the things that we can miss out on if we don’t listen, and how important it is to always be listening. It’s easy to extrapolate that out into every day communication as well. If we’re not listening to each other first and foremost, then we’re not communicating and we’re not learning. And if we’re not doing these things, we are not improving. Listening is really the beginning of our interaction with the world. It’s such a fundamental thing and I’m thankful I was reminded of this today.

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