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Basics: The Basics of Basics


Buckle up, we're going on a wild ride through the land of the most basic basics, folks! This ain't no walk in the park, I tell ya.

You know that annoying guy at the gym who's always flexing in the mirror, grunting loudly, and acting like he's Hercules reborn? He's not really trying to get fit; he's just performing in a one-man show called 'Look at Me, I'm Super Cool.' This kind of show-off mentality limits us when we're trying to master any skill.

It's like our ego puts on a pair of disco roller skates and tries to impress everyone by lifting more weights than it should, performing flashy moves beyond its capability, or showing off glitzy but substance-less techniques. Sure, this might stroke our ego for a hot minute when people acknowledge us, or at least, when we THINK they do.

But here's the funny part - most of the time, we're just like cats thinking we're lions. We believe people admire us for our daring feats, but in reality, the pros just chuckle and shake their heads. It's a bit of a bummer, like realizing your 'vintage' jeans were just old ones your mom didn't throw away.

The price of these temporary illusions of grandeur is hefty. First off, your body takes a toll. It's like forcing a hamster to run a horse race - soon enough, you're depleted, taking days to recover, or worse, dealing with inflamed muscles and joints. Go a step further, and injuries might just come knocking at your door. Fixing the damage done can be as tricky as trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

Then there's the matter of leveling up in whatever you're doing. Ask yourself this: "Am I honing this skill to improve myself and grow as a person, or just to show off?" If you're honest, you'd pick the first option, but the sad truth is that most of us are just peacocks strutting around.

Ironically, knowing that you're showing off can be pretty entertaining and harmless. It can even summon some laughs. The worst case is when you're clearly showing off, but you delude yourself into thinking you're serious about learning.

The outcome? You end up stuck in a loop, not improving, because let's face it, showing off often leads to mistakes. And what do people do when they're stuck? They double down and show off even more! And each time, the show-off antics get more flamboyant, more grandiose. It's like painting a room neon green because you think it makes you look cool. Been there, done that. I can sniff out a show-off from a mile away.

Avoiding the show-off mentality is tough. It's even harder to find someone experienced, capable, and caring enough to correct you. They're like unicorns - rare and magical. These people don't have the time to deal with peacocks, so they need to genuinely care for you. Trust me, getting guidance from a wise soul is a big win, because once you're off track, it's hard to find your way back.

Now, some friendly advice for you. No matter what you're learning, there will always be basic movements or techniques. Stick with those. Yes, they're basic, but they come in many flavors. A single punch can have a hundred different forms across various martial arts.

When practicing these basics, it's not about showing off how fast or strong you are. Instead, it's about being gentle, simple, correct, and "void". Try to slow down and feel the technique. Treat your practice like a playful conversation with your body, instead of a shouting match. Explore the depth of the basics. They may seem like the shallow end of the pool, but dive deeper, and you'll discover a wealth of knowledge hidden beneath.

Practice is an art form in itself. When you practice, practice for the sake of practicing. Lose yourself in the movement. Let go of the end result, let go of the applause, let go of the illusion of grandeur. When you practice in this way, the world around you fades, and you'll find a unique sense of tranquility, a beautiful dance between your mind and body, rhythm and movement, intention and action.

Even if it's just a simple jab in boxing, a single note on the guitar, or a basic painting stroke, take the time to feel it, to understand it, to perfect it. Like an actor in a theater, you don't just say your lines; you live them, breathe them, embody them.

We can even take inspiration from the Japanese philosophy of Shoshin, or "beginner's mind." Shoshin emphasizes an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying at the beginner level, just as a beginner in that subject would. Maintaining a beginner's mind, even when you're an expert, allows you to approach your practice with fresh eyes, an open mind, and a humble heart.

So, ditch the disco roller skates, forget about the peacock, and put away the neon paint. Instead, show up with an open heart and a quiet mind. Honor the basics, respect your limits, and nurture your growth. Keep your focus on the journey, not the destination. Practice with patience, persistence, and love. Not only will you improve, but you'll also experience the true joy of learning and growing.

Remember, the goal isn't to look like Hercules, it's to be the best version of yourself you can be. Now go, embrace the basics, and become a master of your craft!