Via Lifehacker, I've found a great new blog (as if I could keep up with those I've already found): Creating Passionate Users. It was a post there -- How to be an expert -- that gave me just that little push I needed to jump into the 30 Day Photo Challenge:
... the research says that if we were willing to put in more hours, and to use those hours to practice the things that aren't so fun, we could become good. Great. Potentially brilliant. We need, as Restak refers to it, "a rage to master." ...
... there is some thought that to be, literally, THE best in the world at chess, or the violin, or math, or programming, or golf, etc. you might indeed need that genetic special something. But... that's to be THE best. The research does suggest that whatever that special sauce is, it accounts for only that last little 1% that pushes someone into the world champion status. The rest of us--even without the special sauce--could still become world (or at least national) class experts, if we do the time, and do it the right way ...
Not, mind you, that I plan on becoming an expert, professional photographer; I don't. That kind of energy I save for poems. But I suspect that working creatively in one medium enhances work in another, and I would be pleased to see both my photographs and my poems improve.
I've been very aware, for most of my life, that I don't like to do
what I'm not good at. I have to push myself very hard sometimes in
situations where I know I won't 'shine' -- so this rings true for me.
The same blog has an entry on being a beginner:
... her take on amateurs-vs.-experts is that the amateurs forget the fundamentals.
... one more thing the superior performers do better than the rest of us--they keep practicing the fundamentals. This fits with the notion that experts practice things that aren't necessarily fun, which can include both the things they still don't do well, AND the non-exciting basics.
This is consistent with my own experience, and why, no doubt, I got so much from Ted Kooser's book for beginning poets. Each time I review the fundamentals, I remember something new.
Then there's Brain death by dull cubicle -- I loved this one:
What the research suggests is that in unstimulating, unenriched, stressful environments, the brain STOPS producing new neurons ... it's only been the last few years that scientists have finally realized that the human brain can build new neurons. For most of the previous century, it was believed that we were born with all the neurons we'd ever have.
... One of the most interesting (and, in hindsight, "doh!") discoveries was that one of the main reasons researchers kept finding NO evidence of new neuron development in their test primates is because they kept them in an environment which shut that process down. In other words, it was the caged-living that stopped the neurogenesis process. By giving her animals a rich, natural environment, Gould "flipped the switch" back on, allowing their brains to work normally, and sure enough--the happier, more stimulated animals showed a DRAMATIC increase in neurogenesis as well as dendrite density.
... It would appear that blowing your own mind on a regular basis is not just a good idea, it's a key part of neurogenesis. One of the conclusions she came to is that "learning heals the brain." And again, we aren't talking emotionally or psychologically, we're talking physical structures.
Experiencing and learning new things is literally exercise for the brain!
I knew there had to be a good argument against minimalism. Just kidding. Actually, I'm fond of minimalist music, and like looking at minimalist rooms -- but I could never live in one. My tastes are too broad, and my habits too messy, and my interests too uncoordinated for such a life to work for me. And now I know that this eccentric, no-space-left-unfilled, art- and toy- stuffed house is actually helping to grow my brain. Hah!
Which gives me an excuse to link to another favorite blog: Grow-a-Brain.