There are some tools at our disposal which can make the things we do infinitely easier. I think it is important to find these tools and utilize them to their full potential.
There is really only one skill when it comes to backpacking and it has to do with the set-up of the backpack. Anyone can put one foot in front of the other but I didn’t start enjoying long distance hikes until I mastered my pack straps.
Specifically, I found these straps called load-lifters. They essentially redistribute weight from the hip strap to the shoulder straps. But they do so at an angle such that the weight is evenly distributed across a vector perpendicular to the shoulder straps. Thus, they relieve weight from both the shoulders and the hips.
Suffice it to say that load-lifters are magical. The only difference between a casual hiker (no judgment, casual is cool!) and a hardcore backpacker is a knowledge of these marvels of engineering.
Inspired by my discovery while backpacking, I started to look for load lifters in the rest of my life. What magical tools exist in the world of music that can make 50 pounds feel like 10?
My schedule is one of them. As soon as I commit to anything, it goes in my calendar on my phone. This includes social appointments and I get ridiculed for it. But I can then free my mind to work on other things. I also use a productivity app similar to a to-do list with deadlines. If I feel overwhelmed by tasks, I just tighten the to-do list strap and 50 pounds suddenly feels like 10.
My teacher’s daily warm-up guidelines called the “Nifty Nine” (credit to Jennifer Parker-Harley) is another load-lifter. It is a set of flute exercises I do every day and it only take 45-60 minutes. Every day that I do them, I feel like I am able to do whatever I need to on the flute in order to play in ensembles or practice repertoire. When I do this routine, I don’t have to toil away in the practice room working on some double tonguing passage or scale which should be part of my basic skills. My Nifty Nine strap carries the weight of my basic skills so I can concentrate on artistry the rest of the time.
So what are the load-lifters in your life? What basic tools can turn an unmanageable weight into something you would be willing to carry up a mountain? Feel free to share in the comments below!
There is perhaps glory in shouldering a heavy burden across immense distances. But if I want to be happy while I’m doing it and avoid burning out, I have to find load-lifters to help me carry the weight.