Jon McGregor on when our efforts pay off
There’s a popular science-class experiment demonstrating critical mass, whereby the teacher adds water to a full glass one drop at a time. As everyone huddles watching, the water refuses to leave the glass. Drop by drop, it mounds above the lip, defying gravity and common sense.
Until finally, one single drop breaks the spell and water spills down the sides.
Jon McGregor wonders at the celestial version: How do those clouds, which weigh more than whales, stay up there? He wonders at that magic moment when vapor becomes liquid, or as he puts it, “the turn from forming to falling”.
In our guitar practice, we wonder when our efforts will produce fruit. How many scales will it take? How many times must we play this tune before it flows like water?
We can never know, because that’s not in our control. All we can do is accumulate drops. One day, one practice, one focused moment, one clean repetition at a time, our part is to show up.
Over time, we gain mass. We grow. We build volume. And then in an instant, we make music, “fatly and effortlessly”.
He wonders how so much water can resist the pull of so much gravity for the time it takes such pregnant clouds to form, he wonders about the moment the rain begins, the turn from forming to falling, that slight silent pause in the physics of the sky as the critical mass is reached, the hesitation before the first swollen drop hurtles fatly and effortlessly to the ground.
Jon McGregor (in “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things” )