My husband, who’s been teaching almost 20 years, likes to joke: “If you don’t fall, you’re not having fun.” He informs his students, “If I don’t fall at least twice during a full day of riding, I haven’t tried hard enough.” It’s true. Even the pro riding team says that. “If you don’t step out of your limits, you won’t fall, but then you won’t learn anything new.” We learn by stretching our limits. Every time we try a new skill, it’s trial and error. We see what works and what doesn’t. It’s practice, but also must be fun or we won’t keep trying. In the act of falling, we learn what works and what doesn’t. If we can observe what we did just before the fall, we can make adjustments and try again.
Bruce Lee once said, “I’m not afraid of the guy who knows 1000 kicks. I’m afraid of the guy who has practiced the same kick 1000 times.” Behaviorists say that if we practice something – anything – for 10,000 hours, we can consider ourselves a true master. It doesn’t matter whether it’s climbing a tree, kicking a football or spinning a yo-yo. We can master it and teach it, or guide others to do so.
Thomas Edison speculated that the guy before him quit just one try short of getting it right. He claimed that had he tried one less time, we would have been without the light bulb for a while longer.
J.K. Rowling said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
We have to be prepared to fall – or possibly fail – if we want to perfect something.
Once we learn and perfect something, we can make it ours. It’s in the passion and intrigue of doing it that makes it fun, and makes it worth achieving. Will Smith’s character, Bagger Vance, talked about finding our own authentic swing. “…it’s in each and every one of us…” he said. “…we just have to find it, so we can call it our own.” Sometimes when I’m on my snowboard, I soften my eyes, quiet my mind, tune in, and float. The beauty is finding our flow in the Universe, letting it happen, and be willing to fall.
There’s a careful balance between the determination of trying, and just letting things happen…when to push and when to let go... Once we learn that, the magic happens.