By Andy Christian Castillo
I struggle with balance. No, I don’t mean the keeping-myself-upright kind of balance (although I will be the first to admit that I can be a bit clumsy sometimes), I mean in a less literal sort of way – I mean trying juggle spiritual life, school, relationships, actual work, family, freelance work, and fitness.
Oh, and add on the military too.
Yeah, that’s a lot.
What makes it so difficult, is that I’m not an organized person. I’ve tried just about everything – online calendars, phone calendars, pen and paper, writing on my hand; the problem isn’t with the tools I’m using. It’s the operator. Me. Human error is the issue; I’m the problem: I forget to put it in the calendar, or mistype the date if I do. It’s a big issue, and I know it; despite all of the advice that I’ve received over the years, I can’t seem to just fix it with a flip of a switch.
With my flaws, I have strengths (as everyone does): When I’m on task, I’m incredibly focused; I can accomplish a lot in a very short amount of time – but when I’m not, my life is a jumble of running late to everything.
What Makes a Good Drummer
A few months ago, I heard a late-night FM talk show host describe the difference between a good drummer, and a great drummer. He said that a good drummer can play complicated rhythms and wow record crowds into thunderous applause; everyone recognizes that he is a good drummer. He can’t help but be noticed.
But he isn’t steady; he’s a flickering lightbulb that’s fantastic one moment, and dull the next.
In contrast, a great drummer isn’t noticed. A great drummer simply plays so well, that nobody even hears him. He expertly straddles the line between too little and too much, and redirects the crowd’s focus onto the other musicians.
Instead of bringing down the house with complex drum solos, he simply plays, perfectly.
A great drummer simplifies complicated rhythms so well, that no one is aware just how great he is. And he stays high on the charts behind the scenes, forever.
In the same way, some people live in the spotlight: wowing audiences with stupendous feats of ability; and for it they receive an abundance of praise. Everyone recognizes that they are extraordinary.
They’re prideful, and all about the glamour of seeing their name written in lights. They are self-righteous in their own eyes, and mistake arrogance for wisdom. When they shine, they shine brightly; but they fade off of the scene pretty quickly when the going gets tough.
Others, live in the shadows; and quietly maintain a fulfilled and fulfilling life. They don’t bring attention to themselves by flaunting their abilities, or boasting of their self worth; instead, they are humble, selfless and steady. They plod ahead, come-what-may, and keep the course, whatever the weather.
Although they may not receive the adoration of jubilant fans, they are recognized by masters in their field – by experts such as that late-night talk show host.
Although they might not be praised by the masses, but they are dearly loved and appreciated by a few. Because they appreciate life, and don’t overload themselves. More than that, they understand that mastery is minimal; they understand that balance comes with an understanding of limitations.
That’s the kind of person that I want to become.
I’m learning that pride is the root of my chaos. Google Calendar doesn’t mess up and forgot to tell me that I had an appointment; I mess up and forget to check – or didn’t write it down in the first place.
I‘m learning that I need to be open with my scattered brains, and admit that I need help sweeping them back up into a neat pile.
I’ll tell you that it isn’t easy.
Humility is hard.
But the end result is so worth it.
The path to mastery leads through humility: I’m learning that. No one became an expert overnight. Humility admits personal faults, and recognizes shortcomings. At the same time, it doesn’t self-destruct into a pile of self-pity.
I’m a work in progress.
And no matter how many times I mess up and miss appointments; no matter how badly I hate myself for it, God loves me irrevocably and completely. There’s nothing that I can do about it.
So instead of brashly plowing ahead and trying to muscle myself into organization, I’m learning to accept who I am (distractibility and all), and ask for help.
Andy Christian Castillo is the Founder of Ver・ism(s). He is a military veteran and student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pursuing a degree in English. In his free time, he plays music, writes poetry, gallivants around the world, climbs mountains and runs through the pouring rain.