28 Days in a Row

Albrecht Dürer, 1471–1528, SAINT JEROME IN HIS STUDY

I am becoming a human guinea pig for the next 28 days. I am a keen self experimenter. This is not the first time I have run a time based experiment on myself. The pull of immersive learning and experience is strong. One thing that I have never done is run it publicly.

There’s a couple of reasons that I will:

It makes me accountable
I’d like some company for the 28 day journey
Writing publicly may have unforeseen benefits

The Hypothesis:

“Writing daily is a whole life transformation process. By the end of the 28 days of repeated practice there should be an observable change in my communication skills and obvious change in my ability for focused attention”.

Everyday except Saturdays. I have to unplug one day a week.

Hit follow to track me.

The light comes in

It has had a life long impact on me.

Imagine a room filled with 30 boys who have never met before. The circumstances are new to each one of them. They are 13 years old, slightly crazed with bravado, testosterone and tweaked by a frenetic desire for meaningful self definition. They were stuck but bubbling with bio-chemical and social reactions.

Everything ill fitting.

Then the energy shifted. All these young men start to constrain their wildness. They focused all their competitive energies on breaking through to authenticity. They’d try to do it with words. Because of one man, their english teacher, Dennis Creaven.

We had a real “Dead Poets Society” experience.

Dead Poets Society 1989

A flame was lit deep in us. It happened down inside me. In a place the winds can’t shake. When you come alive like that, it’s untouchable. You can hide from it, split yourself up, but the fire never subsides. It burns without your care.

It does not go out.

I have been spoiled. At life’s turning points my teacher shows up. We reconnect. Every decade or so. Our meetings are as rare as they are unplanned.

It just happens.

The last time we met we discussed the Irish Poets, transformation, language and how, we, as men, needed to cleave to nature. Soul food. He still looks enormous to me. His hands are like shovels.

Back in the Classroom

Mr. Creaven possesses the size of man that, as a natural consequence of evolution, causes other men to respect or fear. He pandered to no one. You could take your pick. Take his mentorship or piss him off. He inspired us to the degree that if one of the other boys was misbehaving the other students would put him in check. This was an aberration in Room 102. We were all brats.

Our souls were starving and everyday Creaven fed us.

When he taught he towered over us with height and broadness. That’s intimidating for minnows. It wasn’t though because his heart fell out of his chest and onto our minds.

If Creaven saw you go for it. If he observed that you’d committed to words and authentic expression. It would not be missed. He made damn sure no one else missed it either. The student would be summoned to the front. He’d stand before his peers with his work in his hands. The creative buzzing silenced by the giant. Everyone had to shut up and pay attention. They had to be able to identify where you broke away from submitting your assignment and went for art.

Address the Room

I remember his voice toughly, almost shouting at me “that line again, read it again…again…again…again.” It was my line. My heart nearly broke my ribs. Again and again. This wasn’t light praise. This was aggressive, powerful, muscular recognition. It challenged and was charged with expectation. It pounded against the way I thought things were.

I ‘d been shook awake.

Real change could happen in that class. You could become something other than what you thought you were.

A boy of words.

We competed for it. It was respected when a classmate outstripped you.

I went after meaning, depth and feeling. I remember one boy did something humorous and airy. I didn’t get why it was so popular at first because I could only recognise gravity. His light touch threw me. The response from the class impressed on me that not every thing is a nail. Well, I’m partially convinced of that fact.

We were learning styles, genres and skills from each other.

Creaven changed our lives so quickly. You could feel it in the school corridors. There might be a subtle nod from one of the other teachers. Respect was coming but you thought you were just a child. Other students, the older guys, would hear about it. That meant you might cop a pass on some rough housing. ’Cause you were “Alright”.

Those were the measurable effects. What cannot be measured are those moments in the dark winter evenings. When the boys on the street are calling to your door. Trying to get you to go out to muck around on the local building site.

You wanted to go but you had to write.

Hours alone with words. Deep diving with your inner man. Reaching your young arms out into the void. Feeling with your finger tips to pluck an invisible chord. Listening for sounds that resonated. Strumming the air guitar and the notes sounding in your bedroom.

Seeking and writing were the most important things in life. A silent work that seemed ultimate. The universe could converge on the tip of your pen.

That’s for life.

We only had Dennis for a year. Talent is never stationary. It didn’t matter though. He’d done his work on us.

Back to the Experiment

The virtues of journaling are not lost on me. I’ve done it for years. Countless hours have been spent pouring out soul and pseudo philosophy page after page.

But I’ve never done it daily. Perhaps, 10 days in a row. Then I might break. Something else catches my fancy.

Recently I was challenged by a tweet from Nassim Nicholas Taleb . He wrote “rituals are the music of life”. That rings true on one level and then creates suspicions on another. My suspicions are generally nothing more than expressions of unspoken biases. Therefore, they are worth challenging. In addition to my admitted bias, a large part of me subscribes to a dreamlike state that can only be achieved by tumbling into circumstances.

In the past, I have suspended ritual in favour of the disorientation that comes by replacing it with a new practice. Disorientation facilitates my dream state. Ritual could knock that on the head.

Daily writing may crash my operating system. Previously, that fear kept me tentative.

I’m not sure my approach has worked. I’m experimenting with letting go of it for 28 days.

If I don’t see marked improvements at the end, I am going back to the old way. I like that way. This is just a test run.

Follow me to get new posts and the outcome.

And with that…

Day one done!

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