What's the Opposite of Everything?



How did you answer that question?  Did you say “nothing?”  Before you decide you’re sure, tell me, what is the opposite of doing nothing?


When so many of us feel so powerless, it’s very easy to believe we are doing nothing.  Nothing about the environment, nothing about poverty.  We’re not even doing anything about improving our diet and exercise.


Or anyway, that’s how it feels.


Our self-despair over doing nothing makes us very manipulable.  I can be manipulated into inaction by people with a vested interest in my despair.  “Global warming?  It’s too big…I don’t know for sure…nothing I do can really change it.”


On the other hand, what’s the opposite response?  I can be manipulated into hyperaction by people who want to make use of my rage.  “I don’t want to do nothing!  I’ll do everything you tell me to do!” 


So compare inactivity and hyperactivity  Neither achieves much in the long run.  In the end, doing everything produces the same result as doing nothing.


So what is the opposite of doing nothing?  It’s doing something.  And that something should be well thought-out and planned carefully.


A friend of mine related a story about a controversial speaker who was invited to lecture on a college campus.  The most fervent opponents came to put protest posters up and shout him down.  They wanted to do everything they could to stop what they considered to be his lies and hypocrisy.


Well, their chaotic efforts didn’t faze the speaker.  He just stood there and weathered it all, upbraiding them for their childishness and rude behavior.  Meanwhile, his supporters on campus went around ripping down the signs and shouting back at the hecklers.


Then one student went up to the microphone.  He held up a paper with specific evidence of the speaker’s deplorable behavior and quietly asked him to address them.  The room went silent.


The speaker blanched.  He quickly left the stage.  In this way, one person who had executed a single, carefully planned action succeeded where all the other students as a group failed.


How does this apply to learning?  Are you in despair because you want to be better at your instrument?  Do you feel like everything needs to be better?


Remember, the opposite of “not practicing” isn’t “practicing.”  It’s knowing what specific thing to practice, and then doing it.  If your teacher is paying attention, they should be able to give you specific things to work on that will eventually get you where you want to go. 


Does this make sense?  Is it too complicated?  Have I tried to tell you everything, or did I successfully tell you just one thing?

1 comment

  • Chris


    Great post Adam. Do the right something.

    Great post Adam.

    Do the right something.

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