Lessons From the Music of: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: Music
Photo Source: Matthewjs007 via Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Anna Leary – Beats of music beat through my blood. I’ve always loved having music on no matter the task (well, and NPR, but I digress). When I read, I have music playing. When I’m cooking? Music. Running? Music. During my kids’ bathtime? Music. We have a family subscription to satellite radio because we never want to be without access to good music no matter where our travels take us.

I’ve experienced some really beautiful, meaningful, and sometimes painful life lessons through the musical soundtrack of my life.

Most recently, I’ve felt the full weight of one particular line from a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis track, 10,000 Hours. 10,000 Hours refers to Malcolm Gladwell’s rather contentious book Outliers, where he states that you need to dedicate at least ten thousand hours to become proficient in your chosen field. Gladwell begs the reader to ask the question, where are the Greats from (as in their culture, background, upbringing) instead of what are the Greats like.

Macklemore is speaking of being an artist and:

See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great ‘cause they paint a lot


Those last two lines actually haunt me. They throw a mirror in my face and the reflection coming back at me makes me uncomfortable. “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great ‘cause they paint a lot.”

See, I have long considered myself a writer but would you like to know the last time I wrote something? Like, actually sat down and took time to write something other than an email or a Facebook post? Well, let’s just say I don’t actually know. Definitely months, could be a year or more. Why do I call myself a writer if I don’t actively practice the art of writing? I let life get in the way. I let playing with my kids actually become an excuse. I’m tired after a day of caring for two babies. Our home actually needs to be picked up. I make an excuse that I don’t have time to write because laundry needs to be done and toys put away and dinners prepared and cooked. While all of those are true things—the house DOES need some cleaning attention, the kids DO need clean clothes, and we all need to eat—yet I can carve out 10 minutes here, or 15 minutes there. I can get up when the alarm goes off. I can perhaps not watch two hours of political TV before going to bed—an hour and a half should suffice.

I want to be great. I have a voice inside that needs to be heard. I have a story that needs to be shared—but none of that can happen if I don’t put in my 10,000 hours.

Where do you want to spend your 10,000 hours?


Anna Leary is the editorial director of this ship and she’s still working on her 10,000 hours.