Beginner’s Mind. That’s what they say you should strive for in yoga, right? No matter how many times you’ve done a sun salutation, each downward dog should be undertaken as if you’re new to it, ready to learn what it has to teach you, ready to be surprised.
I believe it’s a good way to live, and I’ve tried in recent years to be a novice in as many ways as I have energy for. Voice lessons, for instance. Joining a choir. Learning to knit. Making jam. And most of all, learning to write fiction.
But the Beginner’s Mind philosophy isn’t about taking up new hobbies or changing careers. In fact, it has nothing to do with novelty. It’s deeper than that, more difficult. Where it matters most is in the things you do most often, the activities you’re old hat at, the jobs with the highest risk of drudgery for you.
Cultivating the novice attitude means that when my kids get home from school, I might look for what’s new on their faces and in their words. I might try to notice. When I deliver a lecture for the second time in the same week–for maybe the sixth or eighth time since I prepped the course–I might go in wondering what I can learn from my students.
I’m not saying I’ve mastered novicehood or anything. But then, mastery’s not the objective, now, is it?