Patience for Practice

Our town has an amazing public library.  Every summer  Neill Public Library puts on tremendous summer reading programs for kids and adults complete with free books and awesome performers.

This morning I took my seven-year-old daughter to a performance by Curtis Carlyle, a comedian and yo-yo/juggling guru.  Let me tell you, Curtis’s show was just as entertaining for the adults as it was for our kids!

Several things stood out to me as I watching this guy.  First, he is my age!  He isn’t some fresh from college kid with excessive youthful energy (I take that back-he does have a lot of excessive youthful energy, but it’s not because he’s still wet behind the ears).  He talked about how he slowly learned to juggle and work a yo-yo from reading library books.  His story made him real, and I hope the children listening felt like with time and practice, they too could be wicked awesome at whatever they want.

His show wasn’t perfect.  Curtis dropped his props a few times, but he rolled with it.  He gracefully used the imperfection to enhance his routine.  I was totally impressed by how he could flip a ball back into play with a quick flick of his foot.  As I watched, I considered how many dropped balls and tangled yo-yos he has no doubt dealt with over the years.  We’re talking hours and hours of patient practice here!

I took in the beaming faces surrounding me: toddlers, preschoolers, elementary students, parents, grandparents.  These people were all touched by the time Curtis put into his craft.  Their day was made a little brighter because of his show.

Everyone’s calling is different, and we can’t judge whose work is more valuable.  It all has purpose.  As a writer who is yet to publish a novel, sometimes I feel like I’m wasting tons of time as I scribble in notebooks and tap away on my keyboard.  Then I encounter someone like Curtis Carlyle with a rare gift that makes a huge impact on the lives of many.  He brings laughter and wonder into a world that can seem dark and predictable.  That matters, and we need more of it.

We also need to develop patience for practice.  I want to see results right now!  I want the payoff today!  I know I’m not the only person in this technology driven, instant gratification world we live in with this mentality.  It’s really helpful for me to see someone who has had the discipline to put in the time so he can really shine and make a difference in people’s lives.

Courtney Carver likes to say that we can’t hold out for perfect work.  We must do the best work we can do today, and every day our work will become better and better.  My best writing this afternoon will not be as great as my best writing a month from now, provided I keep practicing.  Every.  Single.  Day

My challenge to my readers today is to think about something you have always wanted to learn to do.  It could be a hobby.  It could be something that leads to a new career.  What would it take for you to take the time and make practicing that thing until you shined?  Who could you touch with this new talent?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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