My fabulous boss lets me leave early on Thursday to skate. Am I lucky? Yes. I got to the rink right on time. There was only one other skater there. Was I lucky? Yes. Then I stepped onto the rink and began skating. Was I lucky? Not exactly.
One of the pleasures of working on something is feeling yourself progressing. No matter how tiny, each step forward moves you closer to mastery. Practice is rewarding because you feel it is moving you further down the path as you keep working. Progress is addictive. And then you have one of those days. You know the kind–the kind where nothing works? That’s what I had yesterday, and by “nothing,” I mean “my entire body.”
I was hoping to practice my figures. I knew I had the push-offs down and could work on moving further around the circle with each one. I knew how to do push-offs. I totally knew how, except I all of a sudden didn’t. I could imagine what I had to do. I could remember doing them correctly just a few days ago. I just couldn’t actually DO them. WTF?
Oh, the dreaded setback. The day where you don’t get the reward of moving forward. You don’t get to go home feeling like, “I know I did well today and I freaking RULE!” Instead, you wrestle with having to relearn stuff you thought you knew. You have to face that this practice is going to be really hard work just to get you back to where you already were. You have to put in effort just to stay level.
I stated and I skated. I sweated and swore and was very frustrated with myself. I kept at it until my knees were aching. Did I get back to where I was? I dunno. Maybe. I know I didn’t stop working.
It’s good to be reminded that skating, like life (yeah, I said life–I totally went there, deal with it), is not always a clear path with signposts showing the way and constant movement forward to the goal. It’s an experience that requires doing without the rewards of doing “better.” We can’t always be better. Hell, we can’t always stay at the same level, even. Sometimes we have to just be. And keep practicing push-offs.