The Keychain and the Execution

My 21 year old Marlboro keychain was retired today.  The brass medallion that has come to my aid as a flathead screwdriver many times is tarnished, but in good shape, but the leather and stitching has finally given out.  It is the last relic of my formerly smoke filled days that are now behind me.  The keychain has now gone the way of my brass Zippo lighter and all of the other smoking accouterments I parted with years ago.  None of these items have any special meaning to me now, but I remember when I contemplated quitting how I was concerned that I would miss using the Zippo.  It was old school.  Everyone else used Bic lighters or matches.  A Zippo spoke to that  throwback-era part of my being.  There was a ritual when you lit up with one of those old flint and wick contraptions.  It was almost ceremonial. 
I feel like ceremony has given way to execution, planning to action, thoughtful reflection to experience through repeated attempts.  It’s not such a bad thing when put into practice, as long as you are not going to try something like a motorcycle jump over a dozen cars without working out the math first.  It can work to your advantage.  You get more done even factoring the time spent on mistakes along the way, depending on the task.   
I started applying this methodology to composing music.  Instead of waiting for inspiration, I would just write.  I usually end up using the first thing I put down.  The less I thought about it and just did it, the more I wrote.  I scrap less ideas than I did waiting for inspiration.  I used to think that to write music, you had to labor for some time in deep thought putting ideas together and looking for inspiration.  I thought that was how it was done.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of my personality and where I am in my life, but that just doesn’t work for me anymore.  Work quick.  Try things.  The more I did this, the more comfortable I was becoming with the process.  I was able to capture what I was trying to express more quickly and any doubts about whether I was being to hasty in my work were vanishing.  The results were better. 
My lingering insecurities with my new process for composing music didn’t completely vanish until I read a business book called Fail Fast, Fail Often.  As you can judge from the title, it is based on this idea of trying ideas instead of over-thinking them.  It was interesting and inspiring to have this concept reiterated by someone else even if the intent was to apply the ideas to product development and entrepreneurship.  It inspired me to double down on action over reflection.  I sometimes think that when I’m mulling things over, I’m really just procrastinating while I tell myself I’m working.  With this book and my experiences, I no longer had any doubt that I was on the right path.  Even with detailed work like editing and arranging music, the idea of action first was the way to go.  Over-analyzing and over-planning were just procrastination dropping by to say hello.  The hesitation is often responsible for poor decisions in the end. 
I think most artists wait to be inspired before committing to a new work.  I look for inspiration wherever I can: and new book, another work of art, a snapshot of daily life.  The most abundant source I have encountered for inspiration, though, is action.  It pays off like no other source.

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