Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

No Obligation

Far too early this morning, I arose from my Sunday-into-Monday slumber, staggered to the kitchen, and rounded up some form of breakfast that would convince my system that it was fed and that it should therefore function well.

It had been a busy, BUSY weekend. Plenty of enjoyable moments, to be sure; plenty of musical productivity, and plenty of fun … but nearly every moment was scheduled, from early Saturday morning through late Sunday afternoon. Therefore, after foolishly committing far too much time to the local NFL team’s trials and tribulations (they won, but it was by no means a smackdown of the other team – let’s just say that it was as if they forgot that a regulation game is four quarters long) … I had descended onto the local mattress at a high rate of downward velocity. And the approximately seven hours of sleep that I’d gotten overnight was nice, but I thought it hadn’t quite made up for the sheer amount of running around I’d done for the previous 48 or so. Groggy? Heavens yes. Or, as I might have put it this morning, “mmmmmmblrrrg.”

After a brief re-invention of breakfast (following the discovery that the milk I’d endeavored to pour all over my corn flakes had decided, overnight, to go sour on me – a taste that at 5 o’clock in the morning is really aggressively awful), I sat to the computer and examined the online world.

In my eMail inbox, amidst the overnight spam – man, you buy something from an online outfit ONE lousy time and they think it’s okay to eMail you four times a day about their latest sale – was an item that caused the day to make a sharp turn into “okay after all”.


I have this friend and colleague who on top of the rest of her busy schedule has become a dogged blogger. Apparently, another member of the blogosphere had recently made my friend a recipient of her “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”. Honestly, I must concur – since my friend’s blogging philosophy has been this: she is compelling herself to write, to the tune of one item every single day without fail, all year (2012) long. And late last night, following some of the rules of the Awarding, my friend decided to commemorate her Award by blog-posting only a little bit about this Award, and much more about other people who inspire her, in print and not.

I made that list.

A desperate, flailing attempt at modesty will prevent me from including the exact text of her perhaps overly kind assessment of my blogginess … although nothing is preventing you from hopping over to her blog post to read for yourself … in fact, at a couple of other times in this space, I have linked over to her fine work, and I will do so again, now. Her blog is called Creative Exfoliation, and it’s terrific.

(Ah.  The mighty Mutual Admiration Society is alive and well.)

The task she has set herself, though, is one that clearly I have not matched; this one-a-day-without-fail deal. When she announced her goal, I remember thinking back to my one single attempt at that feat. I was thirteen, so perhaps you can predict where this is going.

I’d been given a diary as a Christmas present. It came complete with one new Peanuts comic strip per page, and other Linus Van Pelt-related illustrations scattered throughout the book. I was very thankful, and determined to give it proper attention.

I made it to February vacation.

And by the time it was Washington’s Birthday, thanks to lots of homework and piano lessons and other elements of a seventh grade schedule, I was pretty much reduced to listing what I’d done on each day’s diary page in bullet points. [] School. [] Home. [] Practice (not much). [] Read letter from Julie. [] Dinner. [] Homework. [] To bed.

I saw the writing on the wall, if you’ll forgive the phrase. Good effort, anyway.

I suspect that when I started this blog, I went in knowing it was not likely to be The Daily Dispatch. Some days have seen two separate posts – rare, but it’s happened. Some weeks go by without any new contributions. Some weeks, I’ve got ideas but no time. Some weeks, I’ve got no ideas. Some days, I’m pretty sure I won’t write anything, and then a little tiny thing happens and either I’m irritated by it or it makes me grin like a loon, and do I launch a little essay into the online world.

And, when my friend announced her intention to write daily, really genuinely every day, I also remember having two distinct reactions: first, I very much looked forward to it … and second, I hoped that her goal wouldn’t start to feel like an obligation, and thereby turn her feelings toward writing, like my morning milk, sour.

There’s enough in life that we have to do, or else. Gotta get up … go to work … make a buck … make a payment … tend to family (kids, or mates, or parents, or all of the above simultaneously) … hit the treadmill, or the sidewalk, or the punching bag. Life, death and taxes, and all that. In fact, one of the reasons that early in my life I was not planning to be a music major was: I enjoyed music enough that I didn’t want it to become something I had to do. I liked the idea of musical activity as an avocation, rather than a vocation, because I never wanted it to become work.

In retrospective, from where I am now, professionally, it was weird and faulty logic; but at the time it made sense. And as it turns out, although not every day is utterly 100 percent bliss, there’s more than enough about being a working musician, a gainfully employed music teacher, to keep it from being just a job.

So, as it happened, I wasn’t the most impressed with my own teaching this particular morning. But that early-morning notification (which was by no means required!), that my writing was somehow, somewhat, in some way, actually helpful to another writer? …made it so I didn’t obsess about it quite so much.


October 22, 2012 Posted by | blogging, writing | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment