Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.

~ Frank Zappa

Do you have any long-simmering projects underway? What’s more important, inspiration or perspiration? How does it feel when you’re making progress?

If there is one thing that’s a constant for all of us spiritual beings having a human experience, it’s the metaphor of the back burner on the great stove of life. We’re all born with a certain number of creative bones in our body, how we use them is up to us.

Some of us are in command of vast six-burner ranges while others get by with a hotplate. Regardless of circumstance, we all have the same amount of time to work with. We slice and dice the hours of the day and the months on the calendar like ingredients on a cutting board.

So there you go, cooking your way through life, mashing up your must-do items into your stew of frivolities, entertainments, and distractions. Things that are out of your control bubble over when you turn your back and sometimes something catches fire causing a complete meltdown.

In spite of the disasters that go straight down the drain, you still manage to come up with winners on a daily basis. You’re like a juggler in a circus or the boy in Ratatouille balancing work, family, relationships, and the crazy outside world on the tips of your fingers.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the day-to-day chaos, your eye sometimes strays to that slowly-simmering pot on the proverbial back-burner. Your screenplay, your business plan, your book project. Something you started with a flash of inspiration that’s now in danger of gathering dust.

If it’s been there too long your eye might shy away altogether with a twinge of sadness. Because deep down inside you know that sitting on the back burner is the secret sauce of your soul. It’s got the special ingredients that make up your one and only zest for life.

We’ve all heard Thomas Edison’s famous phrase: “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Just because your world-class output requires more of one than the other doesn’t mean they don’t carry similar weight. One drop of dye colors the entire pot.

The next time you put some effort into your pet project, look closely at your feelings when you’re done for the day. There’s a difference in quality about the sense of accomplishment that you gain from making progress on your True Work versus simply managing more of the mundane.

In fact, those feelings can be so strong that they’re scary. All kinds of emotions can arise from inching closer to your soul’s goal. The excitement can be electric, yet so dizzying it keeps you at bay. Fear of failure — or success — can rear its ugly head.

The irony is that the closer you come to putting the icing on your creative cake, the more likely the gremlins of self-sabotage will crawl out from the cupboards to drag you down. The key to defeating these little devils is to make progress a practice.

Learn to love your process more than your product and you’ll be well on your way. If sit around day-after-day waiting for your Muse to appear before lifting a finger to stir your pot, you’ll find yourself feeling dejected with no progress to show all-too-often.

But if you carve out a little time on a regular basis and simply put your head down to plug away, you’ll find that this is in fact an invitation to the Muse herself. She’ll set aside her shyness to make an appearance once you prime your pump and clear the metaphysical field.

As far as your soul is concerned, progress is one of the primary ingredients of happiness. Your soul has known who you have the potential to be since you were old enough to remember your daydreams. The search-for-self is a detour, the shortcut is getting out of your own way.

When it comes to your special spice of progress, the trick is to add a little bit every day. Your soul understands that sometimes everything else boils over and will thank you even if all you can manage is a single stir of the pot.

One more email address added to your list. Five minutes of research and a new note on your outline. Art supplies ordered and on the way. Some days it’s all you can do to peel a single onion, but your soul still sleeps easier knowing your dream is in motion.

Once you’re in the habit of making progress, some days will dawn clear and you’ll whip up a soufflé of success. The window of opportunity will open wide and in will blow the Muse on a breeze of inspiration, eager to move your Soul’s Work farther along than you could have imagined.

So don’t sell yourself short and simply settle for the mundane. I’m a writer, and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that you can’t edit a blank page. I throw spaghetti at the walls every day, and sure enough, some of it sticks. If not, I’ll make more tomorrow.

Let progress be the pinch of pepper in your pot. Your back-burner might seem like an afterthought today but it holds the key to your dreams of tomorrow. Don’t let it sit still for too long or you may never know how your one-of-a-kind recipe turns out.

Much love and happy cooking till next week!


Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

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