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Why you work hard to be good at stuff:

DeathRay has a saying: “No one should ever cover The Beatles.”

Seen, and raised:

This is Sungha Jung, a 12-year-old boy from South Korea who now gets invited to the Seoul Jazz Festival by the likes of the Swell Season. He’s “fingerstyling,” which means that rather than focusing on a specific part of the song, the guitarist attempts to create a more dynamic, fully-rounded sound by multi-tasking the instrument. In other words, you’ll hear the whole song in there, even though there’s only one guitar and one guitarist, because one hand isn’t busy holding onto a pick. But you’ve watched the video, so you know that already.

What really gets me is that Sungha learned how to play this well in about three years’ time. After years of watching his dad play, he decided to pick up the instrument for himself. He devoted between one and three hours per day to honing what skills he had, and today it takes him about three days to learn and record an entirely new song. Recently, he’s begun composing his own melodies after recording and sharing covers of Beatles and Sting songs for his YouTube viewers.

The other day, Paul Graham Raven asked (via Twitter): “wonders why – when he actually manages to sit down and binge on writing – it ends up wiring him like a wrap of speed, sleepless and manic?”

I said: “It’s what you need to do; your body knows that. It’s what gets me out of bed, honestly.”

And this is why we do anything so foolhardy, really. Because we desperately want to. And if we stopped wanting to, we would no longer be ourselves. I explained this idea to a very generous listener this Thanksgiving, when he asked me if I enjoyed writing.

“Oh yes, very much,” I said. “I mean, I can’t stop.”

You do it because you can’t stop. In the end, that’s the only reason. There is no guarantee of success or even enjoyment or improvement. Rationally speaking, there may always be a “choice” to quit, but that’s like “choosing” not to be an alcoholic any more — you’ll always be an addict, no matter how long it’s been since you and Mr. Daniels broke up. The only choice you have is to not sit down and work at it. But the desire to do so will still be there, under the skin of your fingers, itching.

Oh yeah. You can feel this disease.

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3 thoughts on “Why you work hard to be good at stuff:

    1. Mwhahahahahaha. My powers of guilt trip, let me show you them. 😛

      (If it helps, I was totally blocked today until I went Halloween shopping.)

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