Four things I’ve learned through The Process of mud mucking

I’ve been thinking about the idea of Process a lot lately. I’m fighting this American ideal of wanting things now and not putting in the hard work to get it. Or deciding I’ve labored enough and someone should just hand me the things I want NOW. I don’t deal well with plodding. I put my head down and push ahead to find myself pushing against the same obstacle. It takes me a little less time each time to see I’m back at the same wall.

I don’t give up though. I don’t quit. So some part of my being must accept this concept of “if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing well” because I’m still mucking, one mud-sucking step at at time. I’m still working through The Process.

I find strength in the like minded. I keep finding myself crashing rehearsals, staring at artists in their studios, watching laborers in the streets. I see some trends within anyone who is doing their due diligence, those who are working through The Process to create something.

1. It’s pretty ugly before the beauty emerges.

Sometimes I go listen to my buddy Steve lead worship rehearsal. I say listen but I really watch a lot because there’s not actually a whole lot for me to listen to. Like most musicians there is a lot of experimenting with sound and technique. As each musician is doing this it results in cacophony. The sound is not pretty. Or Steve might hear one phrase that he’s not happy with and they may spend 45 minutes just working through the musicality of the phrase. It’s a long Process. I don’t get the whole picture before I have to leave. First timers might question if they get anything accomplished at all. Until Sunday morning. And I hear and see and experience and benefit from all their hard work of piecing all the parts together.

2. It takes more time than you’ve allowed. 

I live off of Hwy 94 in St. Charles. To locals that means it’s usually really difficult to get to my house. If you came one way last time you probably won’t be able to go the same way a second time. Sometimes in the same day. The roads around my house have been under construction for literally years. I’ve lived here almost 13 years and I don’t remember a time we haven’t had a detour of some sort. I watch the laborers and they really aren’t just standing around. They are completing back breaking work. They are getting sections done, eventually. The highway project seems to have taken more time than they anticipated. But it’s worth it. The destruction up of concrete, the swirling clouds of dust and dirt, the confusing detour signs will lead up to a much safer, much more efficient road system. We all want that. We just don’t want the dirt. But we need the mess to make progress through this long drawn out Process.

3. It’s better if you mess it up.

I’m try to appear very casual and not stalker-ish at all when I sit mesmerized by students sketching at the 5th St. Starbucks. I  love wandering through the Foundry Art Center or the Lindenwood art studio and watching people create realities that I can only dream of creating. It’s fascinating for me to see 3-4 sketches of the same item piled up on the tables next to them. I can tell that on this portrait they tried an umber mix but on the same picture one canvas over they tried a mustard mix. I try not to look at the canvases they have discarded or the crumbled sketches in the trash can. But what every accomplished creative knows is that your end product is better if you mess up. If you go through The Process of looking through different filters or angles you will more than likely come up with a much better piece. You much more likely to create something you are happy with if you go through The Process and don’t stop at the first piece.

4. It’s worth the mud-mucking.

As tedious and mundane as The Process can be, I know I would doubt myself if the end product came to easy. I would question myself, “did I go too fast, what did I overlook, what’s unfinished, what’s going to come back and bite me in the butt?” I’ve learned to find joy in  The Process in order to press on to The Goal. Mud mucking is required to make success from the vision.

That part of The Process are you enduring?

What’s your end goal?

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