Category Archives: Intention

Intention: The Value of Craftsmanship

February 11, 2018

Intention

I have been thinking about the intention involved in craftsmanship a lot lately. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is defined as “one who creates or performs with skill or dexterity especially in the manual arts”. To some degree, this implies that there is a dedicated focus on the actual skill and technical ability needed create or perform at an optimum level.

Typically, the word craftsmanship is associated with any kind of artistic and manual activity that demands  at least some amount of physical and proficient movement. Woodworking, painting, or pottery are activities that come to mind, but what if we could apply it to any kind of work that we like to do? What if we relate it more with how we approach our work versus that actual work itself.

For example, I love to write as a way to express my ideas, opinions, and to tell stories, and I also love all of the mechanics that come with doing academic work in a college setting. One of these is arguably more artistic than the other, but the attributes of craftsmanship can be applied to both.

As I writer, I can take the time to understand how to clearly and eloquently convey an idea or emotion. What kind of language does that require? How can I structure sentences  to accomplish this? What are the ways that words can flow on a page as opposed to being dry and clumsy? How can I make my writing more engrossing and easy to understand?

A craftsman would approach writing by asking these questions and meticulously finding the best applicable answers. He or she would focus on the skill itself and infuse thoughtful intention towards deeply understanding any and all fundamental concepts and doing excellent quality work.

My life as a college student could also strongly utilize a craftsman’s mindset. I could analyze how I use my time in order to ensure that I can keep up with deadlines and due dates better. I can figure out the study techniques that offer maximum retention and actual understanding of concepts for an exam, and speaking of exams, I can figure out and implement test-taking best practices for all kinds of tests. There are any number of possibilities.

Whatever the pursuit,  the only important component is that you focus on the skill itself and determine ways to execute it towards as close an approximation of excellence and mastery as you can.

Whether one’s life passion is artistic, menial, scientific, simple, or multi-faceted, it is easy to fall prey to the allure of fame, money, recognition, or any other external motivator. Alternately, the craftsman relates to the work itself on a day-to-day, or even minute to minute, kind of cycle that stays fully present and in the moment.  Anything involving the ego becomes secondary, if not completely immaterial. There is a singular priority based upon doing strong and competent work.

I am writing about this to explore the idea of exemplifying craftsmanship in all that I do as a student, musician, artist, and human being. This means feeding a constant curiosity to fine-tune any work that I do to its fundamental nuts and bolts and to do it as well as possible. What excites me most about this prospect is that it cultivates a lifelong state of being towards doing work that I can be proud of and that matters to me.

A life that is lived well is a life full of deeply worthwhile pursuits.

This is how I want to live.

-Roqué

Popular Posts:

I Am Not White, and I Have Less Power

#metoo

My New Baby Grand Piano

 

 

#metoo

December 17, 2017

Intention

Yup, #metoo.

I was 19-years-old then, too young to have the wherewithal to stand up for myself against someone who took liberties over my body.  It was a part-time job at a small sandwich shop.  Our lunch rush required us to have the ability to make up to twelve sandwiches wrapped and ready to go in under five minutes within a team of three people.  It was during this lunch rush that she groped my crotch as I was carrying a basket of bread over to a counter.  The look of shock and disgust on my face did not faze her.  I was speechless and completely caught off guard.  She laughed it off and went back to work. This would be one of three instances in which she did this, and one of several in which she would humiliate me in front of others.

She was not a manager, but she had the benefit of having worked there longer than any other employee.  She was bossy and demanding, and quite honestly, she was a monster.

The owners of the business liked her a lot since she seemed to get a lot done, and in hindsight, I should have spoken up.  I also should have left.

Now, years later, I wonder why I’ve never spoken openly about this experience.  It truly was humiliating and dehumanizing.  At the time, I was embarrassed and ashamed and couldn’t get myself to talk about it to anyone.

I filed it away under memories that were isolated incidents that I would rather forget.

I never forgot.  I never forgot how she made me feel.

Fast forward to the last couple of months when many courageous women are standing up for themselves and holding people accountable for their bad behavior.  This took me back to my own experiences.  All things being relative, what happened to me feels small compared to what others have gone through, and I am thankful that I have not been in a similar situation ever since.

I truly hope that this time of reckoning in our culture creates deep and substantive change in our society.  I hope we can take this further and figure out ways to talk to our children about how to stand up to people who abuse their power by abusing others.  Maybe it can be discussed in schools.  I wish someone had taught me about how these dynamics play out.  I did not have that awareness back then, but I do now.

I wish someone had told me that no one has a right to treat me and my body that way without my consent.

To some extent, even though it accounts for a short period of my life, I wonder how it affected me in the long-term.  Anybody who knows me knows how extremely modest I am.  Someone would have to pay me very well to take my shirt off in public.  I often default to being passive when dealing with difficult people (I’m working on this one), and I avoid terrible people at all costs.

So, maybe there’s good and bad in the end.

If I ever see her again, I would tell her how she made me feel and that she had no right to treat me or anyone else that way.  I would tell her to rot in hell, because I still feel a little angry about it all, as long as I’m being honest.

Whether it’s a film production company, NBC, CBS, a factory in the midwest, or a sandwich shop in the south, I hope women and all people can feel safer where they work.

We all deserve safety, respect, and to be treated with dignity.

-Roqué

Befriending on the Outskirts

December 10, 2017

Intention

Have you ever gone to a party knowing that you would not know any other person there except the person who invited you? After you arrived, did you wind up in a corner with no one to talk to for most of the night wondering why you even bothered to show up?  Well, I have, and these kinds of instances in my life have altered my thinking when it comes to befriending new people.

These days, I put a little more intention behind who I choose to befriend in a social or group situation.

No, I do not seek out the beautiful people or the ones who seem really popular and outgoing.  I have no beef with them, and they can be as gorgeous and engaging as they want.

What I look for is the person who seems shy, out of place, or who could use at least a friendly acknowledgement.   Imagine if you will a low-key soiree at a friend’s house.  There are about 30 people milling about and carrying on some mild chit-chat.  There are small groups of three to five people separately congregated at different points around a large living room.  Invariably, there might be one or two people just looking around or staring at their cell phone.

What I like to do in this scenario is to seek out those people on the outskirts who haven’t connected with anyone yet, and at least, say hello to them.  Usually, I would walk up and say hi and then ask if he/she needed a drink.  This harmless question helps me figure out if she/he would rather just be by themselves.  That’s okay too, but if not, I go in for at least a quick conversation.

Here are some questions I ask if they seem willing to engage:

  • So how do you know so-and-so?  (Insert name of person who is hosting the party)
  • Where did you get those ________?  I really like them. (Insert any object of clothing or accessory that you genuinely like.  Compliments can tear down the biggest walls.  Go for the hair if it looks great.  That disarms just about anything.)
  • Do you happen to know who sings this song? I really like it.  (Assuming of course that music is playing at the party, which is usually the case.)
  • Do you happen to know where the bathroom is?  (Use this if nothing else is an option.  It gives you a small window of time to chit chat before you actually should go to the bathroom. Definitely go to the loo at some point even if you don’t have to. It would seem creepy if you didn’t.)

Be friendly and smile.  The goal is not necessarily to make the most amazing friendship for life, though I am never opposed to that.  It is to acknowledge a fellow human being who might be feeling alone or dejected. I can remember times in my life when other people have made me feel welcomed and supported.  It is a warm, fuzzy, and supremely life-affirming experience.

Befriending someone on the outskirts can happen anywhere.  Look for the last kid picked to be on a team in P.E. class.  At your job, make a point to say hello and introduce yourself to a new co-worker or someone who is often sitting alone in the break room.  At a business meeting, find the person no one else is talking to.  Whomever you find in any of these scenarios might be someone who is worth knowing and deserving of some warmth and kindness.

-Roqué

 

 

 

Intention: Rest

November 26, 2017

Intention

There are some truths in life that are worth knowing deeply.

One of these truths is the value of rest.

Yup.  Rest.

I am sharing my thoughts about this because weariness and burnout are mightily formidable. They wreak havoc upon your body and your spirit steadily, and over a long time (or even a lifetime), they can erode all of the parts of your life that were intended to give you  joy and fulfillment.

First, let’s clarify what I mean by “rest”.

I am not talking only about sleeping at night.  I am referring to an intention to shut out all of the pressure, noise, expectations, and anxieties you face every day.

I am talking about the kind of rest that is restorative and relaxing.  A state of being in which your mind, heart, and body are quietly at ease.

I will be the first to say that entering into this state is not easy, particularly if your are not used to doing it.

We can say we are taking the day off, but are we really?

In my experience, I can be sitting on a chair and look like I am doing nothing.  What is actually happening is that my mind is moving at the speed of light thinking about all of my responsibilities and disappointments.

For others, taking a day off might mean spending hours on a cell phone pouring over Instagram or Facebook.

Both of these instances certainly address some aspects of rest, but they also fall too short of what it means to rest deeply.

Deep rest means actively decluttering your mind and body of the pressures of life.  There’s a reason why vacations are so fun and restorative.  They physically take you away from what you have to face head on every day.  They take you away from your burdens, at least temporarily.  As such, they feel liberating.

If I could take a vacation every week, I totally would, but since I am not independently wealthy and care about my personal responsibilities,  it is not possible.

Or is it?

To me, true deep rest has to feel like a vacation.  There has to be some level of joy, and you have to create a sense of separateness from your every day life. It also has to be ridiculously easy so that it does not become its own chore or burden.

This is what deep rest looks like for me .  .  .

Sleeping in and staying in bed at least one day a week.  I can read a book and fall back to sleep any time.  I’ll have snacks by my bedside. Cuddle with my cat Steinway.  I might watch a movie on my laptop or just stare out of my window.  In my head during these moments,  I am just enjoying myself and intentionally not thinking about anything stressful.

A quiet, warm bath also works well.

A massage from someone you trust works wonders.

Rest means physically allowing your body and mind to quietly settle into itself.  For this to actually work, you have to give yourself permission to let go of life’s physical and emotional demands just for a little while.

Think of it as your own mini and super easy vacation.  Find what works for you.

Do it every week.

Do it often.

Know that you deserve it.

As for all of those exponential gifts that this lesson will give.  I’ll leave those for you to discover.   Just trust that the rest of your hours and the busy-ness of your life will be better for it.

-Roqué

 

Intention: The Value of a Slow Lifestyle

September 9, 2017

Intention

I grew up on a remote island in the South Pacific.  I vividly remember what life was like over there.  The speed limit was no more than 25 miles per hour on the roads.  Everything.  EVERYTHING moved at its own seemingly glacial pace.

Nonetheless, things still got done.  People worked, cooked food, had gatherings with friends and family, built homes, and lived full and rich lives.

On a clear summer night, I left that island with my tear-stained face on a plane headed for America.  Now, I live in a land in which someone else is always driving faster than you on the freeway, regardless of your own breakneck speed.  People hurry along in droves trying to get so much accomplished in so little time.  They are pulled in multiple directions raising kids, posting on instagram/facebook/twitter/etc, taking selfies, building a career, staying healthy, partying, traveling, creating, doing, doing, and more doing.

They all move SO FAST.

But why?

Seriously, why?

At what point did we learn that faster is always better?

What if we took on the intention to slow down in life?  Instead of taking on so many things so quickly, what if we did the opposite?

Could we do one thing at a time?  Do it at a slower and more comfortable pace?

Why not?

What if we regularly stepped back to press on the brakes and proceeded slowly?

For myself, what I gain from doing this is more space to breath and gather perspective.  So what could this look like for you?

Instead of a tackling a to-do list of 20 items, take on one important item with the trust that either everything else will get done in their own time or that some things just actually do not need doing.

When you eat food, chew slowly and savor every morsel of flavor.

Walk a little more slowly along your way.

Have multiple moments for yourself to take a long, deep breadth.

Take a drive through the countryside and do it slowly.  Feel the wind in your hair.  Drive slow enough that you can take in the view.

Pause before the next time you pick up your cell phone and acknowledge what is going on around you.  Is there someone you can talk to instead?  Maybe you can just do nothing for a few minutes.  Why rush?

Ultimately, living a life that is paced at a rhythm that is comfortable and sustainable means living a life of deeper contemplation.  You can trust that everything will get done and will happen as they need to.  You can still live a rich and full life.

Slowness allows us to actively live in our own richness.

-Roqué

 

Intention: Incremental Learning for Life

August 19, 2017

Intention

One of the primary ideas I want to explore here at BLOOM is the concept of intention.  This is the first of an ongoing series of posts that expound upon the notion of living a life of intention.

First of all, what is intention?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, intention is defined as ” a determination to act in a certain way.”

It is synonymous with the words .  .  .

purpose
resolve
aim
conviction
hope

It’s a big word with a lot of depth.  So, the next question is “How does one live a life of intention?”

I suppose it means living with an active awareness of and acting on one’s preferences, desires, goals, and dreams?

I suppose?

All of that sounds hunky-dory, but is it really that simple?  I will not pretend that I know the fullest and best answer, but I want to take the time to find out.

One way that I have explored intentional living is through what I like to call incremental learning.  It is the kind of learning that is diametrically opposed to crash courses or any kind of fast learning.  Basically, you take a skill that  you want to learning and pick it apart to its most simple and fundamental components.  Then, you SLOWLY explore each of these components one at a time in a gradual, organic, and consistent way that has no deadline.

Back in 2012, I bought a cello.  I started taking lessons and have loved it ever since.  The challenge was that I am not a cellist by trade.  I am a piano player.  The way I learned to play and understand music is almost completely different than the way a cellist does.

I must have been crazy to take it on.

But I have always loved the instrument.  (Also when I grow up, I want to be like Yo-Yo Ma.)  At first, I dove in.  I found a wonderful teacher who taught me a lot that first year.  I was ambitious and focused.  I tackled as much as I could as fast as I could.

Then, I started to feel pain.  I felt pain in my thumbs and in my hands. I never felt pain when I played the piano, which feels as smooth as water cascading down a mountainside.

I had to stop and reassess.  I stopped taking lessons and took a long break.  I mulled over the viable option of quitting the instrument altogether.

What I eventually decided to do was to stick with it and do it more methodically and slowly.  This is where I have come to practice incremental learning.  I play no more than 15 minutes a day to reduce strain.  In those minutes I focus on just one element at a time.  For the longest time now, I have been working on strengthening my bow hold in a way that does not create pain or strain.  I have made good progress, but there is more work to do.  Other times, I might focus on creating a good tone that is pleasing to the ear.  Another time, I may just work on memorizing a piece.

Incremental learning means slowing down and taking the time to understand something one small element at a time.  There is no pressure.  No deadline.

This has been my intention, and I have reduced the pain while managing to learn something I love.  Even though this particular learning process takes forever, I am still getting out of it what I  wanted.

If there is something new that you want to learn that feels impossible or overwhelming, consider learning it incrementally.  Go with that intention and see where it leads you.  It will not be long until you find your own way.

-Roqué