Some introspection: Bridging Genres

Inspired (in part) by Seth Godin’s “People who like this stuff…”

Fitness or Athletics?

Building from the same concept of genres, I see myself as existing in or between the above two. Though athletics here is a catch-all concept to describe a whole host of activities: sports, dance, martial arts, parkour, and other, predominately physical, arts/disciplines.

How do these two genres differ? Well, let’s look at what terms we use when going to do either one:

  • Fitness: Going to a gym, going to workout, or exercise.
  • Athletics: Going to a studio, dojo, training center to a practice/training session. Showing up for a performance* (e.g. game, event, or some other time/place specific objective).

* It’s not a perfect fit, as not everything included in the label of athletics actually have a specific performance goal, but it’ll do for now. Many martial arts and disciplines like parkour have more of a self-improvement and character building focus.

The key difference I see here is one of focus, the objective of the activity.

Fitness is physiologically driven: one is trying to improve internal markers and feelings of health through workouts and accompanying nutrition.

Athletics is skill driven: one learns skills and improves them in order to use them in specific situations, whether for competition or just for the joy of motion. Additional conditioning enables greater skill execution and improved resilience—you play better, longer, and avoid injury.

As a genre fitness could be considered a fork of athletics: conditioning adapted to the non-pro (or not adapted, as so much advice is, unfortunately). I don’t like absolutes, and as such I believe it is possible to make fitness (as defined above) enjoyable, but still I feel that I’d be fighting an uphill battle in a genre where I have never felt a real belonging.

I do like the desire for self-improvement that is a frequent driver in increasing fitness—and that may actually be the point to craft the bridge—but it often suffers from a need to build motivation rather than a more internal generation of motivation that creates itself (AKA intrinsic motivation).

But a bridge to what? A bridge to becoming an amateur athlete, an amateur movement artist, an amateur mover, or whatever other label one prefers. The term amateur comes from “lover of” or “lover”—thus an amateur here is one who practices, moves, and plays for the love of moving.

The amusing thing is in beginning this post I was uncertain of which genre I would be drawn to, and in writing it the answer revealed itself rather quickly.

All introspection aside, here’s the useful general point: Understanding what genre you’re operating in as a creator is a powerful tool for providing direction. It culls the temptation to try to appeal to “everyone,” intensifying your focus on creating awesomeness for yourself, your tribe, and your genre.

By all means, create a bridge for neophytes to get into your work, but focus on your core.

Solitude & Creativity

I’m the type that enjoys being alone with my thoughts. Yet I still find it hard sometimes to be okay with choosing to do something alone instead of being social.

Yet there seems to be a powerful connection between time spent alone, with our own thoughts, and creativity.

Forest Bathing

An idea garnered from conversations with a friend. Both of us, from time to time, feel a pull towards a natural space—to relax, to think, to move away from the noise and distractions of daily life. But it’s not so much about escaping all noise, I think, but rather about creating the space for our own noise; our inner voice or whatever you prefer to call it (intuition or otherwise).

By allowing for the time and space to mentally wander one seems to open the doors to greater creativity and discovering synergistic solutions to whatever is preoccupying your mind.

In my own case it’s those times when I find a quiet space (usually in nature, if I can) or walk through the woods that I gain the greatest clarity or get those little creative insights—jotting them down in a notebook in hopes of finding a use for them later.

But, and maybe this is partly because of some stigma against intentional solitude, I find that I don’t proactively create these quiet spaces. Instead they are sought once I can’t not do so, because I need to de-stress to avoid feeling overwhelmed or uncertain.

Lately I have created that space more frequently and feel far better, on average, than I have in the past, despite plenty of stresses to worry about. Turns out there’s a bunch of good research on the subject, so to end this (still) open-loop of thought I’ll leave you with a couple of excellent articles to explore:

Enjoy!