For a couple of years now I have been teaching myself how to SUP (stand up paddle board). It’s a pretty simple process. But like all simple things there is a depth to practice and technique that helps you get better and better. And the changing context of the ocean and the winds and weather means there is never a way to “win” at it.
The thing about SUP is that the conditions change radically all the time. One day is flat calm and the water is like glass. Another day – like today – it’s windy and the chop is sloppy and the currents are really strong. Almost every time out is a new challenge with new little victories and little defeats.
Mastery is like that. It’s about learning a technique and then applying it as the context shifts. It’s about getting good at something and then facing a humbling experience that teaches you something about yourself.
Today it was learning about the power of the currents whipping around Dorman Point. Lately it’s been about trying to offer quality process when there is fear and ego and expertise at play.
Mastery comes from a myriad of little learnings gathered from a myriad if different context. There is no flash of insight that makes you a master and there is no way you can ever feel you have arrived. That we are all human and always falling short of our ideal for ourselves and others is the great secret that helps us to connect, if we can see it. If we instead hold ourselves so far above or below this line of vulnerability that we can’t see our small tender selves in others then the benefit of our little learnings are lost, mere spindrift in the current of our learning lives.
I think it was my friend Toke Møller who said “never trust a sword teacher without scars.” Truly.