341: “The Myth of Effortlessness” (Charlesia McKinney)

                “I’d internalized the myth of effortlessness as a marker of success.”
                -Dr. Charlesia McKinney, in a lecture at UIUC

                Lately I’ve been playing with new habits—a walk everyday, and drawing, and a few others that I’ll tell you about some other time soon. Each time I find a new habit that helps me feel a little more balanced, a little closer to the tree’s roots and the celebrations of blowing snow, there’s a part of me that goes, “Aha! That’s it, then. I’ve found it. Things will be easy now.” And of course they won’t be. I don’t think that’s how things work.
                As a teacher, I see the myth of effortlessness all over the place. Writing, math, computer programming—whatever you’re good at, says the lie, will come easy to you, and then you just follow the easy. It’s not true. A dancer’s effortlessness flows from effort. From practice, from time and attention and maybe sometimes love. Woven with that myth there might be others. The myth that effort’s a bad thing. That effortless is a better way to be. With that goes the dream of the easy change, the figuring-it-out, so that one walk makes “the right” shift in perspective and suddenly everything’s clearer. I’ve internalized these myths. And that’s okay. I’ll take them for a walk later tonight, and maybe again tomorrow, and again a day after that. They can come along, but with them I’ll carry McKinney’s reminder. I think I want the kind of balancing that’s always ongoing. Not effortless, but the blowing snow and all its shifting celebrations.

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