Mastering An Art

As seen in our July 20, 2023 Newsletter – Subscribe Here

You are never good at something the very first time you do it. Actually, that isn’t true. Lots of people have Beginners Luck. But very few people can replicate Beginners Luck. We aren’t here to talk about the 0.1% of people that are just naturally good. We are here to explore basically everyone else. The 99.9%, aka the effectiveness rating of condoms.

When I first started fly fishing, I sucked. It was borderline not fun. The only thing keeping me coming back was the wilderness and the friends who taught me. If I didn’t have them, I would have been a card carrying Bobber Club member for life. But I stuck with it.

I would not say that I was any more obsessed than any other middle of the road fly fisherman. I read a few books. Cast a few times in my backyard. Watched some YouTube. And got out there.

It was that last step that made me better.

There are many phases to learning, but three seem to simplify it for me: Learning, Doing and Teaching. In that order you get better. Each more daunting than the last. Each a new test for the prior level graduate.

Luckily since we are guys and are very comfortable ‘Mansplaining,” we are good at skipping to the final step, regularly. At least that’s what my wife says. But she says this is because it is a societal… ah shoot, there I go again.

However, when we are mastering a hobby or a skill, we actually cycle through each level.

We learn the basics. Go out and give it a try. Get tangled in the trees. Bitch and moan and swear it off forever. Watch some videos. Go back out. Finally catch a four inch fish. Then show our sons how their pops has always done it.

Now put that series of sentences on repeat and boom, you have the learning cycle. Every turn of the wheel, we get a little better. And the size of fish increases by one inch per revolution.

Many things in life are like this. The only difference is that when we do them and get a metaphorical tangle in our leader, we quit. We swear it off for ever. We either say it is impossible or not fun. That it is “just not my thing.” Never acknowledging the fear that maybe we will just be failing a lot until we get it right. We do a terrible job of weighing the pros and cons. Because the pain of failure is a con that out weighs the pros of many things in life.

But that is where the wilderness and friends came in for me. They created a community around me that gave me the strength and reassurance to keep pushing forward. To keep increasing the size of my fish. To keep snapping my $3 flies off in the trees until I get it right. Thanks buddies.

Most of the time mastering an art is a solo endeavor. An internal battle of just showing up. If you can do that, you will eventually master your art. And every now and then, your community will get you over the hump.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top