What do you think of when you hear the word “Practice”?
Do you heard a verb? Like practicing the piano, practicing my presentation, practicing patience
Do you hear a place? Like Soccer practice, swim practice, dance practice
Here is the formal definition of practice, according to the Webster Dictionary:
: to do something again and again in order to become better at it
: to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life
: to live according to the customs and teachings of
The third definition resonates with me personally, much more than the others. Of course, you have to practice to get better at something or to ingrain it into your life; that would be the normal definition of practice.
I am thinking of a practice that I have made a lifestyle, or something that I do that sits so close to my being, that it defines me. I believe that this concept changes the word from a verb to a noun.
I have a practice, do you?
Some people have a practice of Yoga, or of Martial Arts. I have a 20-year old practice of Pilates. However, my biggest and most significant practices is Paddling. I practice paddling.
It really sounds like I am practicing to paddle, and, like I stated before, that is part of it. But Paddling is my lifestyle, almost my religion. I go to the water (Church) for clarity and meditation, and I practice my skills to do so.
It certainly has been a journey for us, my husband and I, as we have defined our practice. Paddling started for us in 1998 (ages 18 and 20), when we saw a sign. We were standing on the remnants of the Bahia Honda bridge in the Florida Keys talking about where we would paddle if we had a kayak, when 200 double sit on tops came out from under the bridge like a sign from God. We certainly took it as a sign, and purchased double sit on top as soon as we got home. Thus the Practice began – first on flatwater eco-trips, then soon into competition. Within a year of that purchase, we were racing; within 6, paddling the Molokai; with 10, paddling 70-miles nonstop.
All of those steps came with dedication, training, and practice. We honed our skills on one kind of vessel, then would step to the next, allowing mother nature to show us a thing or two (or give us a thrashing or two). Never did we force it. The universe would conspire to move us in the direction we needed to. We flowed with the tides, and moved forward when we were ready. We didn’t get too caught up in gear or equipment, but worked one skill at a time – one craft at a time – for years. Though we are still far from reaching the top of our desired Practice, we continue to work hard to get a little closer.
A practice is one of those things that can’t be rushed. It can’t be forced. It’s experiential and spiritual. You learn and you grow. You have successes and you have failures. Give yourself the space and the time to learn.
Take your time grasshoppers. With time, it will come.