Ease vs Easy
In the past couple of days, on both Pinterest and my rss feed, I've read the phrase "look(s) so easy..." As in, "she makes it look so easy (to X)" or "how do you make it look so easy?"
And I have a very visceral reaction to this phrase: it makes me wince.
Do we grok why other people make things "look easy?"
Do we really, really get how come things "look easy" to us? When in fact they may not actually be so?
The key factor here is empathy. If things someone else is doing always look easy to us, we're probably not putting ourselves in that person's shoes.
We're forgetting that no one else is perfect, either.
I get that there are things that come easy to me that don't come so easily to other people (and vice versa, of course) but here's the rub: nothing is ever as easy as it seems when we look from the outside.
From the outside, we can't see the hard work. We can't see the exhaustion or the stress or the late nights.
We have to imagine it.
It seems to me that one of the great lies of our age is that "if it isn't easy it isn't worth while." And that's why the pervasiveness of "it looks so easy when X does it!" shakes me, because it gives more proof to this lie. And when we are deep in the fog of complacency and procrastination, we can't see that the lie keeps us from living our one, true life (to paraphrase the great Mary Oliver).
Writing is something that started off difficult for me but became much easier with practice. Photography is still something I work at (I still forget to change settings when I'm shooting in manual... D'oh!) Mothering is one long exercise in practice.
Anything worth doing is worth doing even if it is difficult. Maybe even especially if it is difficult.
There is ease in my life, because I choose to practice that which is difficult for me.
Ease is different than "easy." Ease is active. Ease is a state of being. Ease is flow.
Easy is luck. If something is easy or hard to me, at first, there's nothing I can do about it, either way (except just to keep going and make it easier through repetition). I didn't choose what is going to come easily to me, and neither did you. Some things just do.
And that's wonderful, but you can't bank on it, because if you do, you run the risk of forgetting that there are tons and tons of things that may not come so easily, but are worth the effort to earn the ease of doing them.
Ease is earned through repetition, through practice: I write so much and so often that I feel at ease in my written words. I proofread (spelling is neither easy nor filled with ease for me! I thank the universe for spell check every single day.) and I edit for clarity and readability, but most of the time I like the way the words flow out the first time. And that is because I've practiced; written and critiqued (and read) a billion + words. I found my writing voice a long time ago.
It is earned ease. And that makes it better than "easy" to me. Sure, from the outside it may look like writing is "easy" for me. But you're not seeing the long hours I spent learning how to write. You're seeing the fruit of my practice.
And you can get there, too, if you start looking for ease instead of easy.
Just start where you are and do what you love, whether or not it comes easily. Practice. Not to make it perfect (nothing will ever be perfect). Practice for the love of doing, for the flow that only comes with time spent practicing.
Try not to compare your inner process with what you can only see on the outside of other people's lives. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks, to know that everyone else is struggling.
Be yourself, live your own life. Don't worry if it's more easy or more difficult for you. Find your own ease. Make your own practice.