I am joining the gym. I enter the mall, excited to buy everything I need for the gym. I imagine wearing my new shirt, my equally new matching Nike shoes and running on the treadmill. I imagine my walk with the new gym bag. I am deodorized in the fragrance of newness. The world around me swoons.
Make way, I need to wake up.
I didn’t go to the gym the first three days because I didn’t have the tools I needed; old shoes, and a couple of bright t-shirts? Nope. Of course, most pressing: there was no gym bag! I can’t go to the gym like that. I had to shop for stuff, the tools. Once I had everything I needed, I was excited and new during my first week at the gym.
The second week was less exciting as my snooze button swung into motherly action. I went two days in the third week. There was no fourth week.
Been there, done that? We all have at some point. It was okay when you were a kid. But, not so fun once you grow up! Because now you start to think about all the money you threw away and Dad takes a dig at you just as you are waking up: “So, how was gym today? Will your shoe fit me?”
The mistake we make when we start something new is that we fall in love with the tools. That’s a sign that we are not in it for the right reason. Because if you want to know what you will really love doing, what you should fall in love with is the process. You go to the gym because you enjoy beating the resistance and the sweat in weird places and the aftermath next morning when you can’t decide which part of your body hurts more.
That’s a feeling a 10 grand Nike shoe can never get close to.
Because the shoe is a mere tool. Often, we don’t begin things because we think we don’t have the right tools. When I started writing, I thought I should get myself a MacBook. Thankfully, the price required me to sell off a couple of kidneys and a part of my brain and hence I settled with my brother’s 8-year-old Dell. It’s one of the best tools I have used. Not because it made me a better writer or anything – as you can vouch- but it made me realize it’s the process that matters and what you write on hardly makes a difference.
You will never hear Piccaso attribute his art to the paint brand he used (he used common house paint). He drew on paper napkins as one famous legend goes. Tolstoy didn’t wait until moleskins came by before he wrote War and Peace. He wrote on scraps of paper.
A tool will never make you the process easy. It may help you suffer less. But that’s only once you are already on your way to mastering the process. The process is what matters. It’s what will decide how long you will stay. If tools were the solution, we would all be creating masterpieces, half-naked, showing off our ripped bodies.
1.The picture here is Jackson Pollock at work, painting; a mind-numbing process in itself. He used worn-out brushes, sticks and resin paint all his life.