Recently, I made a large pot of bone broth. As usual, I was doing other things while I cooked, and the broth stayed on the stove much longer than I intended. It had reduced down by about half before I took it off the stovetop. When I re-heated my first cup, the flavors in the broth were intense and hearty, much better than if I’d turned it down “on time.” This is how we age and grow; the fire of living burns off the flotsam and jetsam of our life leaving us with our more intense selves.
It’s funny, I am not that different a person than I was three years ago when I walked away from my full-time job, and yet, so much has changed. Where I live, what I drive, where I work have all changed. I think who I am as a person has changed, but that’s primarily because I have been given the gift of being able to return to the things I love in life.
I was always a good writer and a talented artist, but those were not the skills that I used to define myself. Those were skills that I thought belonged in my past, things that I did and enjoyed when I was younger, but I considered them impractical dreams that would never support me, much less a family. I spent my time and energy trying to succeed within the rigid definition of success that my generation was told was the only way to move forward in life. I forgot how integral both those practices were to who I am.
With the grace of being able to devote my time to doing the things I love, I am experiencing life the way I was meant to experience it. My eyes have always registered shapes and colors, but now that I am able to spend time drawing and painting, I am looking at those shape and colors and imagining how to replicate how they make me feel. I have always loved words and how many ways there are to put them together to express an idea or thought, but now that I am able to spend time writing, I am able to allow the words to flow into patterns I hadn’t thought of before.
These shifts have occurred because I make the time to try and work on my art and my writing as often as possible. I have a goal of trying to practice both every day. I often fall short of that goal, but I hit my goal often enough that I am able to see changes and improvements from my persistence. I am a huge fan of James Altucher, and in his article, The 1% Rule For Creating All Habits, he wrote:
“Habits don’t change in a day. But 1% a day makes every habit work. Every…The reason is: they work if you do a little each day. If you relax and give yourself permission to only improve a little each day, then a good habit works… Improve a little each day. It compounds. When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days, not every 100 days. Compounding tiny excellence is what creates big excellence…You can’t be a master in one day. You have to improve a little every day…Picasso created 2 works of art a day. That’s 50,000 in a lifetime. It adds up.”
That daily practice is comparable to how I make my bone broth. Bone broth is a savory liquid made of water in which bones, meat, and vegetables have been simmered. The more vegetables you throw into the mix, the more flavors your broth will have; the more time I spend practicing my arts, the more I’ll learn about the nuances of both. The longer you cook the broth, the more intense the flavors become; the longer I continue to work on my crafts, the more intense the work will become.
We are all born with our own personalities, interests, and talents. When we try to conform to the standards of society and work against these inborn traits, or when we disregard our inner selves, then much like trying to make bone broth with cold water, it just doesn’t turn out very well. Or, you can half-ass what you’re doing, barely turn on the fire, let everything sit and warm up for a while, but due to impatience or other demands, give up and take if off the stove too early. It’ll be okay. Okay, not great.
But when we are able to nurture our talents and personality traits, devoting our time and energy to them, then much like the bone broth, all those talents can intensify and become more satisfying with a depth you never knew was there.