Just one more cycle of Minecraft

December 19, 2017 on 10:49 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on Just one more cycle of Minecraft

The late Cape Breton writer Alistair MacLeod (No Great Mischief ) spent a lot of time teaching his art. One technique he was known to use was to write the final line or two of his story at – or near – the start of most any writing effort. This finish line, resolution, story-ending – call it what you want – would tie a figurative bow on any story and stand as a beacon to the way the story would ebb and flow. The early composition of his closing words would effectively guide him as he made his way through a story’s telling.

With a Piping Today deadline burning a hole in my calendar – a target date I’ve known for weeks – I’m going to tap into MacLeod’s final- line technique. I don’t know where this story’s going, but with 24 hours to cut-off, the last line of this talk has been noted. Now. So here goes.

The always-quotable author Dr Norman Vincent Peale said that if you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done. Who’s to argue with the guy who helped generations with his trillion-selling Power of Positive Thinking – the gramps of all self-help books. I think of many of the things I have done in my life, projects that I am most pleased about and that have been the most positively memorable. When I ponder a few, I know fine well I unknowingly followed Peale’s advice. It was all about just doing it and so there was more Nike than Nietzsche to most of the efforts I recall. And when it comes to things I’m passionate about, that’s how it usually goes. Music projects, band expeditions and concert commitments: damn the torpedoes. Hoping not to sound like I’ve been breathing too deeply and too long from the angel’s share, I do believe R W Emerson when he wrote that once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

The tricky thing about the transcendent idea of universal engagement in the delivery of an intention is one small – but important – detail. Before the cosmos can connect, a decision needs first to be made. What’s needed is the firm commitment to action. What could be easier? Just do it.

Maybe in part to prevent any kind of quantum-mechanical overdrive, the universe has also given us procrastination, the opportunity crusher. Any leisurely hours I may’ve had today are right out the window as I wrestle with ideas that must lead me to the touchstone that sits among words at the 974 count. What might’ve been different – or better – had I duly, meticulously chipped away at my task?

Procrastination is the yin to the yang of drive and determination. Nothing good seems to come of it, so why is it so common? It chips away at one of the most important and valuable gifts we have – time. Picasso offers up some particularly stark and powerful advice: only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. Yikes.

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