My way is not the same as your way. That’s probably one of the most simple and true facts of life in general. How I do things is not at all the same as how you do things.
That’s for many reasons. Environment, experience, life lessons, beliefs, biases, and on and on. But the single biggest reason of all is because your headspace/mindset/psyche is completely different from mine.
Mindfulness is always composed of the same basic components. Thought, feeling, and action. But what you think, what and how you feel, and the nature of the actions you take — and intent behind them — is variable within every single person on the face of the Earth.
That means that there are more than 7 billion (7,000,000,000) different ways to do anything and everything. Sure, many are going to be similar and very nearly identical — but they are still different.
People surmise that there are a wrong way and a right way to do a thing. While on the whole, they’re not mistaken, there is no ONE right or wrong way — but lots and lots of them. Hence, what works for you might not work for me — and vice versa.
No single way is static
When I first started practicing medieval fencing back in the early 1990s, I was taught with an epee and the stance I used was to place my left hand and left foot forward (blade in the right hand) for better defense. When I first began to teach fencing, this is what I taught.
Then I learned a few different things. I changed my stance, blade foot and hand forward, offhand at chest level for defense (and better use of secondary weapons like daggers and bucklers and such). Balance at 50/50 weight distribution between back foot and front foot. This is what I would teach into the early 2000s.
Then I began to study historic Italian rapier. My epee was retired for a schlager — a heavier, more realistic recreation of a period blade — and my balance was changed to more of a 60/40 or 70/30 stance with more weight to the back leg. Movement transferred more from the blade to the body. This would then translate into more-or-less what I would go on to teach today.
My point is that the “way” I have done and taught fencing over 25+ years has changed rather a lot. This is because the way is not static and is always changing. Also, truly, there is more than one way to do this thing. My way is NOT the One True Way™ or any such thing.
This applies to everything in life you encounter. There is never just a singular “right” way — there are always variable options. And, what’s more, the “right” way today can be changed and utterly different tomorrow.
Change freaks people out
I love to learn new things. There is always information to be gleaned and knowledge to be gained.
When you are working on solving a puzzle — literally or figuratively — the process can be frustrating, exciting, awesome, infuriating — take your pick. It can even be all of the above. But once you get that solution there tends to be a sense of satisfaction in its completion.
Trouble is, in almost every instance I can think of, that end result can shift and change. You learned the thing, you have gained the knowledge — and now that thing is no longer what it was.
Take COVID-19, for example. In the beginning, I believed — based on the evidence I encountered — that this virus wasn’t a big deal and was just like influenza and the harm that comes of it. Knowledge uncovered and that is that.
Except, of course, it’s not. I then learned that COVID-19 is much worse and fraught with a lot of unknowns. It is a far more dangerous virus and harms people quite differently from influenza. What I know has changed.
This is what causes a lot of unrest in people. You know something, you have awareness and knowledge — except, wait, no, now it’s wrong. What the hell? How did that happen? How could what I know now be wrong? That’s crazy!
Sound familiar? This is part of how things change. Material or immaterial, that “thing” can and will change. That can be freaky and disconcerting.
Now, amid the pandemic AND social unrest due to some serious injustice being laid bare — uncertainty is causing tremendous anxiety, depression, and fear. At its heart — change.
The other side of this will not be the same. How that change will look is a mystery.
Recognize multiple ways
As a writer, I am a “pantser.” That means that I sit at the keyboard and let fly what comes out of my brain. I often don’t have a plan and no real idea where the end is going to be. This tends to be truer of my fiction than my non-fiction.
I know many writers who are “planners.” To a greater or lesser degree, they create outlines, plans, diagrams, and lists for how the story is going to go. Some do this for the overall arc, others on a chapter-by-chapter basis — and everywhere in-between you can imagine.
Is my way the right way or is theirs? Yes.
See, there is no one right way. My way is right — FOR ME. Your way is right — FOR YOU.
One super-important proviso here — along this same line of thought we can also choose the WRONG way differently. Wrong tends to be subjective — with some specific exceptions. For the sake of this topic, however, wrong is repetitive approaches to things that generally fail to provide the desired end result.
The way that works for you may not work for me and vice-versa. This applies to writing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, cooking, singing — take your pick. All of the arts are impacted by this idea. Part of that is human nature while part is societal.
Modern society is obsessed with seeking out the One True Way™ to do this, that, or the other thing. But the truth is — there is never One True Way™.
No one way is right
It is true that some ways of doing things work better than others. However, this tends to be subjective. Since no two people are alike, no two approaches to any given thing are alike.
When you stop resisting the idea of there being more than one way you can embrace the different ways. Further, you can learn a lot from how your way is different from someone else’s. You may also become more able to change how you do a thing — literally or figuratively — based on the way of another that you encounter.
That, in turn, opens you to more diversity. Recognizing and acknowledging more than one way for any given notion opens you to see the vast potential available to everyone.
The search for One True Way™ tends to get caught up in the artifice of lack and scarcity. There is not enough of the thing, so only with the One True Way™ can we ration that thing out for more people.
Truth is, most of the things lacking and scarce aren’t. There is more than enough money, love, joy, acceptance, food, comfort, literal and figurative power to go around. Different ways present different and broader options for anything and everything you can conceive of.
Everyone has their own approach to the artistic process. But more than that, everyone is unique and so, too, is the way they do things. Becoming aware of and embracing this truth can help open you to potential, possibility, and more overall awesomeness.
Awareness of more than one way is super empowering.
What ways of doing things have you changed in your arts and other aspects of your life?
You are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter — whatever way we do things.
Originally published at http://www.mjblehart.com on June 13, 2020.