Monday, January 11, 2016

Journeyman January

Believe it or not, this will be my 500th blog post.

I think the timing is particularly appropriate for my current situation, and I've tried to neatly sum it up in my choice of title: I'm living a kind of "journeyman's January," for lack of a better description.

A "journeyman" is someone who has surpassed the stage of an apprentice, but who is not yet a master craftsman.  In sports, a "journeyman" usually refers to a player who is good and skilled and reliable, but not a superstar.

Stretching the analogy a wee bit, I can say that a "journeyman's" approach to life is what I need to accomplish what needs to get done in January this year.

I don't need the flash and dash and panache of a superstar; I need solid and skilled and reliable.

Case in point: last week, I had new windows installed.  This is wonderful, but this also means that I now need to repaint the trim on every single window in my house, and reinstall (and update) the shades and the drapes.

This is not a task that requires innovation and insight.  It's a task that requires steady persistence and a few well-honed but generally basic skills.  

I'm in the middle of a few books that I've started reading and a few knitting projects that I've been (you guessed it) knitting.  At this point, I need to just keep going along at cruising altitude and finish them.  I'm in the middling middle of the road and right now, it's just a question of staying the course.

Similarly, I have two articles that have received "revise and resubmit" recommendations from editors.  The bulk of the research is done, the inspiration has been achieved.  What's needed is fine-tuning and finishing--strengthening connections between ideas, adding a bit more of a background context, fleshing out specifics.

In short, I need to exercise all of the basic, day-in-and-day-out attributes of a journeyman.

On the fitness side of things, I'm not recovering from injury or setting out into uncharted territory in a sport this January.  I simply need to make sure that I maintain a steady workout schedule, that I show up, put in the time, stretch my abilities as needed, but most of all... show up and stick with it.

This is easier said than done, obviously, and that's the kicker when it comes to journeymen.  It isn't necessarily easy to maintain their approach to daily labor, because it possesses none of the flash of a superstar's existence, but all of the work and commitment and, well, for lack of a better word, drudgery.

I've already been slightly derailed.  Last week, I got off to a slow start and didn't get the writing done I had planned, although I did get to the gym on Monday and Tuesday.  But then, on Wednesday, I told myself I'd "take a break" from swimming and do a bit of writing instead.

Which would have been fine, except somehow, the writing didn't get done.  (This is what I'm saying about the difficulty of being a journeyman.)

I figured I'd get back on course on Thursday, but first thing in the morning, I received a sudden phone call announcing that the windows were going to be installed.  This meant that I scrapped all my plans to write for the day, but I reassured myself that I could recoup the loss on Friday.

Which would have been perfect if I hadn't awakened on Friday with a headache that quickly morphed into a migraine, requiring me to go back to bed at 11:00 a.m. (hormones suck: they are not a journeyman's friend, that's for sure).  It took all day to recover, but recover I did, with plans to use the weekend to get where I wanted to be--where I had meant to be by the end of the day the previous Monday.

I won't go into the gory details, but suffice to say, the writing didn't happen over the weekend either, largely because looking at what I needed to do felt like an overwhelming exercise in tedium.  There was nothing interesting or inspiring to be done, just a lot of ... work.

The good news is, this morning I awoke to a renewed sense of commitment and a clear sense that, whatever challenges the journeyman's January might pose, I need to simply rise to the occasion and do the diligent, reliable tasks that need doing by implementing the tried-and-true workaday skills that I have.

Ultimately, I think that the situation I'm facing is not necessarily all that different from the slump that most people hit two weeks into the New Year: the thrill of resolution has worn off, but the thrill that accompanies noticeable results has not yet been earned.

At this point, I think the best I can hope for is a daily self-reminder that slow and steady will--eventually--win the race.

And when I find myself overwhelmed by doubt, perhaps it will help me to remind myself that, step by step, day by day, I've managed to keep a blog for a little over five years now and that I've actually written 500 entries.  One. At. A. Time.


  1. I admire your commitment to writing. 500 blog posts, and posts of substance as well –– it's really quite something and uncommonly noteworthy. Plus, when you are delayed it's due to some overriding something (windows, headache) that pulls your attention elsewhere. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your compliment!


Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."