Wk4, Day4: My U.S. Open
I had the chance to watch some of the U.S. Open tennis matches in the past two weeks. It’s inspiring to be aware of all the drills, practice, and conditioning that these athletes dedicate themselves to each day in preparation for these short events. All the days of routine rehearsal, and then two quick weeks in which they must bring their knowledge, skill, and steady minds to bear in a quick burst of competition.
There is nothing in my regular life that compares. The things that I do, for work and for fun, are non-competitive, low-risk, and relative in effort. If I show up and do my best and things did not go as well as I would have liked—in a lecture for class, for example—I can correct it the next time. If I lose focus for an entire hour of sitting meditation, I can just watch it happen, note the impact, and show up for the next hour that night or the next morning.
But within this pattern of regularity, routine, moderate cost-ongoing benefit, there is tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m taking the licensure exam. I have been studying for it full-time since May; 200-300 hours total studying time are recommended. I wake up, meditate, feed the cat, feed myself, meditate, exercise while listening to audio tapes of the testing content, shower, read notes, take breaks, read more notes, etc. The test in one day is my U.S. Open.
Part of me is wound tight about that.
By now, however, I know the content back and forth. As I listen to the recordings, I am speaking along with the teacher. I’ve scored in the high 90s on all of the practice exams (up from 50s in the winter and 70s in May), and I’ve shown up, day after day, and put in the work to learn this material. I am well-trained. Add to that the increase in meditation time to two hours per day beginning a month ago now. All signs point to success. There’s really little more that I can do at this point.
I’m curious, though. I don’t have any high-stakes, one-shot major events as part of my regular life. I wonder what all of this daily, committed practice will do when it comes to being called to bring my knowledge, skill, and steady mind suddenly to bear?
I will keep you posted. In the mean time, I’ll keep practicing—meditation and studying.