Chris Padilla/Blog / Notes

Many Pots Boiling

Focus is a really big deal.

Minimalism is a movement to live with only what's essential, Essentialism and The One Thing, and 4,000 Weeks are books about honing in on only what's most important. Speaking as a former musician, there are even cultural precedents to go all in on whatever you are most passionate about.

But bouncing around and chasing lots of interests is way more fun!

W.A. Mathieu writes beautifully on this in The Listening Book:

It is valuable to have many pots on many burners, and to keep track of the pots and the fires under them. This means that it is good to nurture diverse musical interests with well-defined, coherent projects in which to develop them... On any given day, go for whatever is cooking best—stir that pot. One's interest boils and cools unpredictably. Don't hassle it. Be responsive to your muse, not controlling. Do what she says. Coherence will come over time.

Call it productive procrastination, if you'd like.

It's what keeps your spirit creating. The important thing in making things is not really the product, it's the process. With too much focus, the process can become heavy. With variety, there's likely always something you'll want to chase after in another craft when the current one simmers down.

For Bowie, it was a dance between painting and songwriting. For me personally, well, I have a lot of options! Drawing, piano, guitar, coding, blogging, writing music. They feed each other beautifully.

If you have one big thing, great! I hope you find time for a bit of exploration, too. Magic happens, there!