When I was at home for the holidays I came across a book of poems in my room. I flipped through it and stumbled upon a poem that was written by a Caroline Ehrhardt from AB Ellis Public School. I read two lines of the poem and smiled because in that moment I remembered something. Now, I should note that lately I can't remember anything for the life of me. I can't remember appointments or names. Taylor will ask me to grab him something and I will leave the room and come back without it one minute later. If I go to the grocery store specifically for bananas, lately that automatically means that I'm not returning home with bananas. I don't know if it's stress or what, but my mind is unbelievebly foggy lately. This is why I smiled when I recalled - vividly - something that happened almost 15 years ago.
When I was in the fourth grade, I wrote a poem about playing the guitar. Admittedly, this was a hobby that lasted just a few weeks, but luckily writing a poem about playing guitar and actually having an ounce of musical talent are two very different things. The poem won a competition (I really don't know how. It was quite awful) and thus I advanced to a regional competition. I was invited to attend a poetry night where all the participants would have the opportunity to recite their poems and the winners would be announced. Like anything else, I practiced obsessively. I said my poem over and over and over. My competitiveness in sport boiled over to everything else I did as a kid - including that poetry contest. I wanted to win. My parents and I arrived at the venue for the poetry night. I sat down and grabbed the program off my chair. I was proud to see my poem among the others. I smiled, excited to take the stage. My smile vanished when I continued to flip through the program and noticed the page listing the winner of my category. I didn't win. I was unaware that the winner was decided prior to reciting our poems, so I was both surprised and disappointed. I looked at my mom who, judging from the look on her face, had also just realized what I realized.
"Well this is dumb. What's the point now? I didn't win."
"Okay, well let's go then." My mom started to stand up.
I was aghast.
"Wait.." My nine year old bratty self didn't actually want to leave. I was just looking for sympathy. I was looking for an "it's okay sweetie, your poem is great!", or maybe a hug. Nope. Mom was apparently ready to go.
"Well?" She looked impatiently at me.
"We're just going to leave?"
She sat back down. "Of course we're not going to leave. You came here to recite your poem. You can't quit just because you didn't win. You made it here. You're still going to do your best. You'll be even better next time because of it."
I was young, but I understood the point she was making with her tough love. I obliged. I recited the s*** out of that poem, guitar in hands and all. I had a blast. I remember how widely my parents were smiling when I got back to our seats afterwards. I felt pleased with myself and was glad we didn't leave. My mom wasn't the type of person to say, "I told you so", so she didn't, she just hugged me and pretended the whole ordeal before had never happened.
I don't think it's a coincedence that this is the first time in my life that I'm reflecting on that lesson she taught me. I've been learning a lot of new things in training which has been exciting, but I tend to get very frazzled when I can't do something correctly instantaneously. I get extrememly frustrated with myself. The body-mind disconnect drives me insane. I know exactly what my limbs are supposed to be doing, but can't get them to move the way that I want them to, and, well...sometimes I start to get that same mentality as 9 year old me at the poetry contest. If I can't win (or in this case do the drill perfectly), "What's the point?".
Of course I never quit mid-practice just because I can't get a drill right. But sometimes I'm so frustrated that I consider it. I consider just saying f*** it and walking away. But I always push through. I continue to do whatever drill it may be, despite the fact that I know it doesn't look anywhere close to how it should. Every single instance when this has happened - a particular drill is making me crazy because I am seemingly incapable of doing it yet I push on anyways - I'm automatically better next time we do that very drill. Sometimes it's a slight improvement, other times I can miraculously do it no problem. No matter what though, a drill that causes me grief one practice is always easier the next as long as I push on.