All life is learning.
This thought bubble came to me during the Algonquin Highlands journey from the summer.
It felt like I was carrying a second Elliott on my back that trip as my pack was not only heavy but it was poorly packed with less than optimal weight distribution.
The bugs. Those mosqueeters were feasting on me like an American eating at a restaurant.
But in the pain of lugging my ass through the trail, I realized that we are here for a short visit. We’re here to poke around and see what’s good, and then we leave. Just like a trio of silly Jewish guys hiking in the forest last summer.
It’s frustrating when you realize this. You will say it’s not fair, but after we get over this we can start to enjoy it.
We are plopped into the video game that is our life and we just have to move forward picking up lessons along the way. On that trip, I was constantly learning how to adapt to the reality of backcountry hiking.
All Work is Learning
When I load up my newsletter app to write this email, I say to myself that this letter is a trip. I don’t know what I am going to learn about myself from writing but I will do it anyways as a commitment to you.
When I load up my music software or I pick up my guitar, I am more than terrified of what will happen. But if I tell myself that all life is learning I will be able to be a bit more gentle on myself. Because every newsletter, every practice session and every song we write is just a chance to wet the whistle and loosen the gears.
But why does this tension exist? Why is there so much fear? With our craft, just as we build up confidence over time, we also build up expectations for ourselves. We say that “this should be working by now”. Or, “I thought I had a method for this”. So our fear is growing just as much as our confidence does.
In a video game, the boss battle that ends each level gets harder and harder. And our work starts to take on more and more meaning the longer we stick with it.
Sometimes we are better off not knowing anything. I didn’t know the trail was going to have a final day that would feel like it was never ending and that the bugs would be so bad that I wouldn’t be able to stop to catch my breath for more than a few minutes and have to eat those gel packs that cyclists in spandex eat as my only meal for those hours we were trudging along. But in the end, I made it to the campsite, dusted myself off and went for a swim.
So this letter is for anyone who is stuck in the messy middle of their life’s work. Not sure it will work out. This letter assures you that it’s worth it. And to stop looking for assurance that it will work out. Most of all, stop looking for validation outside of yourself. Because the infinite power only exists from within.
In 2022 I did not formally release a lot of music as most of my energy went into music for Elliott’s Podcast. But my final release of that year was Provoking Lake Sunset which featured artwork came from the trip written about above.
This version from Elliott’s Podcast does it live with the footage from the sunset that was captured on the trip.