Over the month of October, I’ve been fortunate to speak with a lot of people who excel in their field. From a reflexologist who makes it her goal to understand her clients through their feet, and a dancer who has expanded a passion for dance into a successful business, to a yoga instructor who believes in making yoga accessible for all, and an aerial artist who is spreading the joy of movement to young and old.
I’ve been bucking the fall routine of settling into old routines by branching out to try new things. And I’ve learned something to be thankful for this November, when we’re all thinking about what matters most.
It’s always fun to watch people who have mastered their craft at work. Skill is a neat thing to witness. Behind someone doing something they make look easy (from cooking a delicious meal to playing a sport) is a lot of time and care. And a lot of practice.
As anyone who has devoted themselves to studying something will know, practice isn’t always easy. It can be a struggle too. At Chrysalis Aerial Academy, owner and instructor Caitlin cautioned her aerial arts students to be aware of the soreness they’d likely feel after class. Aerial arts is a term that encompasses a wide variety of acrobatic activity but typically involves aerial silks, long pieces of fabric that are hung from the ceiling that make it possible to twist and contort into various positions The effect is nothing less than magical, but the trick lies in making the hard work look effortless. The time between starting an activity and getting good at it is an important and challenging time. For a while, things may be difficult, if not seemingly impossible.
During class, I thought about my own clumsy experience as a beginner compared to the person who gracefully slithered up the silks, completed two full splits and an inversion, and appeared to exert no effort at all. But Caitlin, owner and instructor at Chrysalis Aerial Academy, said that the “lag time” between beginning and being good has its own rewards too. “People are amazed at what they can do in one practice.” That can encourage them to push ahead, thus building strength and skill.
This lesson, so evident in aerial arts, is also applicable in life. Good things don’t always happen overnight. In November, at this time of harvest and reaping what was sown in spring, it’s helpful to pause for a moment and be thankful for things that grow over time, as well as the initial spark that starts them.
That’s why I’m thankful to have been able to interact with such motivated individuals who are bringing their passion to others and building communities around these shared passions, whatever they may be. I’m thankful to have learned that opportunities abound, and that preconceived notions–of ability and possibility–are made to be discarded. And I’m thankful because these opportunities always start with one: an interest, a curiosity, an idea.