Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It May Seem Difficult At First...

I can't express how much I love this quote. Sometimes, as capable adults, we forget this very simple fact: everything is difficult at first. Maybe that's why parenthood is so great, we get to experience something that we don't remember much of: the learning process from the ground up. There's a reason that baby's first steps are a Kodak moment. But we forget how much time and energy go into mastering even those "baby steps": strengthening the core muscles by first pushing up, then sitting up, then crawling, strengthening the legs by pulling up on furniture and "cruising", walking around and holding onto things, letting go and standing and trying to balance, falling down on your bum and doing it over and over and over again.

It's hard to keep this in mind though, even though it's a lesson I learn over and over again. I recently took up playing the piano more than casually again, mostly because we finally got rid of our old out-of-tune upright and got a digital piano which is beeeyoootiful (and in tune). I don't know why I thought I could just sit down and sight-read and play easily, but guess what? Learning a new piece is difficult, and takes a lot of work. I need to sit down every day and practice (yes mom, just like you told me!) Lesson learned. Again.

I spent last night at our Wing Chun (Kung Fu) class. The drills we are doing are completely unfamiliar to me, and very different in almost all aspects from what we do in Karate. Where Karate is hard, meeting force with force, Wing Chun flows around. Where Karate is straight, Wing Chun is circular. It's so.... difficult! But as I posted awhile ago, I think everyone should be incompetent sometime. It's good to face the difficult, as long as you don't let it frustrate you. Sometimes that's a tall order, and often we stick with things we're good at because, let's face it, it's nice to feel competent and it's often uncomfortable to feel incompetent.

In the swim classes I teach, I occasionally get a person who thinks that mastering new skills should be easy. For some it is, but I do try to dispel this myth on a regular basis. Learning something new can be hard, and if people get that, they're willing to work for it. The person who continues to believe it should be easy will not last long, nor will they ever achieve competence, let alone mastery, of a new skill. Conversely, embracing the fact that it can be difficult, that it probably will be difficult, can give us the will to continue trying until we prevail. That is, until the next difficult thing comes along.

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