what to expect when you try something new

Having my footwork corrected by Kung Fu Joe (Josephus Colvin, RIP)

To live life at its fullest, at times we may have to try something new. 

The downside to trying something new is that, at first, you suck at it. 

For example, the first class I took in martial arts.  I didn’t even know how to make a fist. 

The teacher, several years after the fact, confided that he hoped I didn’t come back for a second class!   I may not be the quickest learner, but I am persistent AF. 

By the end of my first year in the class, I still wasn’t very good at it, but I knew how to make a fist.  I knew what it felt like to punch someone!  I also knew what it felt like to get punched!  Which is a skill I highly recommend.  When you get punched, you need to maintain your composure, and that’s like the most difficult thing to do in the moment.  It’s easy to just fly off the handle and let your emotions take control.  

I ended up in that martial arts class for 17 years.  I won gold medals in tournaments.  I was even in this commercial for Lily Lau’s Kung Fu Tournament from 2001.  It’s literally one second that I’m in it.  Second #52:

 

But, at first, I sucked at it. 

Another thing I sucked at first at was Tango.  This is a more recent endeavor, as I like a good challenge.  The first class I was literally stepping on everyone’s toes.  Each dance partner I had was, in the nicest way possible, telling me what to do.  I HATE being told what to do; something about being told what to do really riles me up.  But I listened as best as I could, and now, at my tenth or so class, I finally feel like I’m starting to get it. 

I’ve also been starting to take gymnastics again.  And guess what?  I suck at it!

One lesson I would like to pass on is – don’t let sucking at something you’re new at stop you.  You can call it persistence, will, curiosity, or humility.  Maybe it’s a combination of all of those.  

Do you remember something you did for the first time that you were a little unsure about?  Perhaps learning a musical instrument, or a new language, or even going to school to learn a new trade.  Rarely are people naturals right out of the gate. 

What I’ve heard from various teachers is that the people who are naturals, for some reason, rarely stick with it.  Maybe it’s because when the inevitable challenges or failures comes up, it’s too devastating to bear continuing.  Whereas for someone who has been struggling the whole time, it’s just par for the course. 

In healthcare, when we get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, we think it’s time to branch out and try something totally different.  Maybe acupuncture or herbs.  Healing should just come quickly and naturally, right?

When people first get into acupuncture, or herbs, or some different type of medicine than what most of us grew up doing, we usually suck at it.  A few people are “naturals,” but for most of us, our bodies don’t seem to cooperate; the herbs are hard to remember to take; and we just don’t “get it.”

Many people try a handful of acupuncture session, and feeling like they still have the problems they came in with, give up.  Or they try to take supplements which cause a detoxifying reaction in the body, and freak out and give up.  “I’ll never do that again!” 

Or it’s not what you had in mind.  “I have to go so often!”  “It’s too expensive.”  “I don’t have the time.” 

Who does it work for?  The people who are persistent AF.  The people who are determined to make the natural way of getting healthy work for them.  At first, expect slow progress.  It’s something that progresses over time and with persistence, as all good things do. 

We’re so conditioned to ignore the small progressions and successes.  We want instant results.  Surely there’s that one miracle surgery/pill/doctor that can instantly reverse years of damages to your body.  If we’re not instantly cured, why bother? 

That’s why I think prescription drugs are such a tempting idea for people.  I can cure my depression/fatigue/allergies with one magical pill overnight?  Sign me up! 

If there was a prescription drug that gave your body the results of daily exercise without having to exercise, how many people would sign up for that?  Millions, I’m sure.  The problem with strong medications is that they always come with side-effects.  The pharmaceutical companies find a single component, typically present in herbs or animals, that has medicinal properties.  Then they isolate it away from the whole, synthesize it in a stronger concentration, and mass produce it under a copyright to make mega-$$$.

Having a healthy body, especially in those of us with a few (or many) grey hairs, is a lot of work! 

The good news is, the more you do it – similar to working out regularly – the easier it gets.  Over time, you start seeing more permanent results.  The results, which coincide with feeling really good in your body, are momentum.  You keep going.  It’s a natural high.  It’s like running down a hill!  Only without the crash at the bottom.  

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