A few years ago I was living with a wonderful woman. She was a performance artist. She believed in process. Indeed, process became this all enveloping idea in her life, as she lurched from project to project, sinking deeper and deeper into emotions and relationships with the people she made art with: children, other artists, her mother. The end result, the performance, was normally radically different from the place she started in. Living with this woman, feeling her processes, I am sure I watched very different performances to the ones others saw.
Later, a good friend of mine was renovating his cottage. Over a peculiarly savage winter, camping in his stone shell, we learnt together plumbing, electrician-ing, plastering, bacon butty-ing. We spent lots of time pondering: considering how to bend copper piping just so; how to cut a hole in a ceiling; how to break up with a woman you love. We drank a lot of tea. The build inched along, ponderously. But we discovered that the important bit, as ever, was the process.
Waiting for the kettle on the old rayburn, looking out over frozen Herefordshire, out across Wales, we discussed process time and time again, for every task. It was a slow, and very beautiful thing.
I’m sure now that the focus on process can save any experience. It draws you into the present. And presence will allow you to feel the rhythm of the singletrack, to see the obvious mistake when you can’t get the bike working. Forgetting the process, by concentrating on speed or the end result, leads only to jerky riding, rough living . The process is rhythm and flow and style, and it’s far more important than mere pace. The process is slowly lacing up new wheels with jazz and a cup of tea. It is a joy that makes mechanical jobs sure and peaceful.
Process is all.