Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wait Until It Happens To You

Two stories:

I started doing martial arts when I was 9 years old.  I did them continuously through college.  I had a conversation once with a yoga teacher, early in my college years.  He told me that he studied kendo for over a decade, but had gotten more out of yoga than martial arts ever gave him.  In my mind, I scoffed.  I couldn't imagine that a martial art, something that teaches your body how to move in order to accomplish something, could be less effective than a practice which uses the body not for that.  Some years after that, I stopped practicing martial arts, but I still wanted to move.  At that point, I realized that my desire was not in learning how to defeat another human being, but in gaining a mastery over the human body.  I understood why he followed yoga.

Early in my college years, I was taking my introductory courses in Professional Writing.  In them, we were reading a lot of advice like: Don't try to write a perfect first draft; write a quick and dirty first draft and fix all your problems with revision. (Yes, I'm bringing up this story again.)  Out loud, I scoffed.  I always edited as I wrote.  I always worked on issues and fixed problems along the way and it never hurt me, timewise.  I would lose more time trying to edit or revise a crappy draft (or writing four versions of it) than I would just making a great first draft.  Then I actually tried it the other way.  I flew through those drafts and rewrites.  I got over the anxiety I didn't realize I had.  I realized that fixing problems is way easier than creating from nothingness.

The point, stories aside, is that advice doesn't work the way we think it does.  It gives you something to think about, something to turn to.  It gives you an outreached hand when you fall on your face.  Advice is a joke until you need it.  Then it's the greatest lesson you ever learned (and wish that you learned it without having to fall on your face).

And I have no idea why I bothered to write this post.  You won't believe me until it happens to you.

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