In 2011, I ran at least a mile a day for every day of the year. I wrote a blog post entitled Another Day, Another Mile summing up my experience, which I concluded with the following thoughts:
“Maintaining a streak has on many occasions felt absurd, yet as I sit here writing this on the last day of 2011, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude for what I’ve learned along the way. There’s something special about devoting, even the smallest amount of time, each day to something that you love. In many ways, it is no longer a question as to whether or not I will run today, but rather about the excitement and anticipation of what the run will bring. Fifteen minutes, one mile, one year, time and distance are self-defined arbitrary measures of success, but the act of getting out there each and every day, taking that step, is truly what matters. And, if I can show this unwavering dedication to something as trivial as running, can I not also show a similar reverence to others and other areas of my life?”
In 2015, decided to do another streak, but with a different twist, this time focusing on shooting one photograph a day, for each day of the year. As a result, I created The Little Book of Squares, a selection of my 52 favorite photographs from the 365-image collection.
The commonality in intent between the two projects was to set an objective for one year that would help frame my daily practice, while keeping the arbitrary rules I set for myself simple enough so that the challenge would be attainable.
For running, I set an easy target of one mile a day. For photography, I just needed to get one shot a day, good or bad. Most of the time, I would exceed that minimum standard by running longer, or taking time to compose a shot and really think about the work, but sticking to a simple, basic concept allowed me to never give up on the continuity of the challenge.
My interest with both of these undertakings was to learn from the process of having unwavering dedication to a specific craft for a prolonged period of time. My hope was that this would yield a higher level of proficiency and understanding of each activity while also bringing forth a sense of purpose to the daily run or photograph as part of a larger framework.
The year following my 2011 running streak resulted in one of my best years of running in my career. Creating the photography book in 2016, pulling from a large body of work, allowed me to keep the creative juices flowing beyond the time constraints of the single year, producing something tangible and new to me, which was a great learning process in and of itself.
I was reminded of the value of dedicating a small amount of time each day to something you love while attending the 1% Percent for the Planet Give Back Gathering a few weeks ago. The event was organized to bring together businesses and individuals who are part of 1% For The Planet and who choose to give back at least 1% of total sales each year to nonprofit organizations that help combat our current environmental crisis. My reason for attending the gathering was to learn from and connect with an incredible group of people who strive to align their values with their business practices in ways that truly bring about tangible change.
Throughout the day, there were some great panel discussions as well a powerful hip-hop performance and presentation by 16-year-old climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.
I was very impressed by Xiuhtezcatl’s delivery, how articulate he is and wise way beyond his years. His deep, genuine, unabashed love for the earth is contagious and was so refreshing in a space that is often filled with pessimism and doom over a dying planet. But, his optimism did not take away from the sense of urgency he imparted on us to act.
Giving 1% of annual sales or 1% of our salary can seem quite daunting or simply not feasible. Inspired by Xiuhtezcatl’s call for action, I started to think of ways we could contribute as individuals towards a better, healthier society and environment that weren’t solely financial.
One percent of 24 hours breaks down to roughly 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes a day or a little under two hours a week does not represent very much of our time. Collectively, though, if we all dedicate just 1% of our day to something worthwhile, that time starts to add up to a lot of positive action being put out in the world. Maybe a good place to start is something as simple and personal as a daily run and then this may just trickle down and inspire all other areas of our life.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What things do you already dedicate at least 1% of your life to, intentionally?
- Do you have time to donate 1% of your life to a new or different cause or interest? If so, to what would you dedicate that time?