It is a great temptation to end this month of writing on a triumphal note of having survived, accomplished or learned various things. After all isn’t a New Year’s resolution about successfully remaking yourself into something you were not before? Don’t we want to believe that we are progressing towards being some better version of what we are now?
I am pleased to have blogged everyday for 31 days, especially if it true, as the social scientists tell us, that it takes 21 consecutive days of doing something to form a habit. In fact, I am especially pleased that I have really wanted to blog every day this month. I may not have finished the article I was drafting at the beginning of the month or articulated my personal writing manifesto, but I have honoured the commitment to remain aware of my writing habits during January.
Nevertheless, I haven’t become someone I wasn’t before, even assuming that were possible in the space of a month. On December 30, 2011 I was a person who struggled to write. Now, on January 31, 2012 I am still a person who struggles to write, but I take some comfort in the fact that I continue to struggle actively, even to develop an attitude of cheerful persistence about it.
Recently, I found a clipping from a March 2002 issue of the Financial Times weekend magazine slipped into the pages of my copy of The Clockwork Muse. It is an article about the ages at which ‘great men’ achieved their great successes. Surprisingly, their most notable creations often appeared when the men were in their 40s and 50s, sometimes even into their 80s and 90s. The last paragraph of the short article caught my eye once again, as it must have the first time around. It read:
It is rarely, if ever, the case that the dominant pattern of a life is changed by an isolated incident or achievement. The eventual impact of such a single event merely reflects the quality of those perennial relationships and the rhythms of our daily life that preceded it.
There is still time, then, not to achieve whatever great thing I think I should achieve and thus transform myself, but to establish the everyday relationships and rhythms that make any work possible.