Makin’ and Keepin’ It Real

(Originally posted May 20, 2013)

I’m not very good at Wushu, but I competed once last year, and I’ve registered to compete again in a few weeks. Why do I do this? It’s certainly okay at my school for adults not to compete, but I’m inspired by the adults who do. They’re gutsy, and I want to be gutsy too, even if I’m still just pretending to be.

One reason I compete is because I am a total slacker when it comes to practicing. I can easily come up with excuses not to train: I’m reading a good book that I can’t put down, I’m cooking dinner for my hubby, or feeling like, “I’m so bad at it, I shouldn’t waste the teachers’ time.” So, I figure signing up for competitions forces me to put all that aside and just get to work, doing my best and being okay with whatever that looks like.

I just found out that in competition the form I’m working on is only supposed to take 45 seconds to perform. My teacher timed me, and I did it in about a minute. Doing it that quickly with that kind of pressure makes all of my movements, especially the punches and kicks, more powerful and I think, more realistic. I move more like I am punching and kicking “someone,” not just thin air.

I recently read this quote by Ira Glass on Buzzfeed: “…do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I think that’s what I’ve already been doing with Wushu, and now I need to do that with the rest of my life.

I’m writing a short story, and I was thinking, “Well, I can use it as just an exercise, just practice for the ‘real writing’ I’ll do some day when I’m a good writer.” Then I realized that in order to get better at writing, I have to make it count. I’m not planning on publishing a novel yet, but I think I could work on this short story enough to submit it for publication in a literary journal or something. It doesn’t have to be an insurmountable goal to start, just something that’s real and tangible. “Risk nothing, get nothing,” right?

I think to really excel at anything, you have take risks and be ambitious, more than you think you deserve to be. I love this quote from Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

I’m going to continue competing in Wushu, I’m going to keep bringing drafts of my short story to my writers’ group meetings each week, and I’m going to keep posting to my blog once per week. Please post in the comments something you can do in your life to make a practice more real, more risky and more rewarding.

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