Ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? The idea is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something. Deflating? Yeah, kind of. That might make someone stop before they start, especially someone my age. Or they forget the joy of what they're doing while they're doing it, just to get the practice in.
In a couple of weeks I will be 54 years old. In terms of career, fitness, physicality, what I know, relationships, finances, life--well, I'm lots of different ages. In fact, the age I feel can fluctuate all day long. It can jump forward or jump back, depending on an experience I've just had. Or an emotion I've just experienced. So when I zero in and I think about my life in two dominant areas, running and writing, and I factor in the 10,000 hour rule--well, just get me a cheesecake and a job in retail, because I'm washed up.
Thankfully, I don't think that way. But it does take some (some? monumental) intentional effort to drown out the idea of where I should be, and put my focus on joy.
This 10,000 hours thing...You know I've said before--in terms of running and athletics, I'm in middle school. I am 4 1/2 years in to this whole experience, and I'm all in. But in terms of experience, I've been all in much like an adolescent is all in--i.e. All Over The Map. I've had ups and downs galore; this is not linear (I hear my coach in my head right now.) It's been emotional, it's been inconsistent, I've plateaued, and I've made incredibly unexpected leaps. The only things that have been constant are: I've stuck with it, and so has my coach. I am just now beginning to be able to hear myself in this and to start to help steer the whole thing--I was just hanging on for dear life up until this point. I am just now being able to put it all together--all the learning and miles and experiences--to start to focus it in a way that may have some traction. And guess what? A generous estimation of the time I've put in, training six days a week plus racing, would be about 2300 hours. If you add in communication with my coach and the studying I've done, I can bring that up to maybe 2800 hours. This is where that monumental intentional effort to focus on joy comes in.
First of all, the 10,000 hour rule has been debunked a bit. Regardless, it does take a lot of quantity and quality time and focus to get where you want to go. I could look at the 2800-ish hours and see the glass half empty. I mean, you do the math: at this rate, I will be ____years old when I hit 10,000 hours. But, so what. It means everything, it means nothing. The time will pass anyway, so why wouldn't I do it? I've picked up so much along the way that I never expected or imagined I would get from this, so why wouldn't I continue to see what else is in store? Plus, I'm getting better. Life will take twists and turns we can't know about, so if I can run, I'm going to run. If I can lift weights, I'm going to lift weights. If I can dream big and set goals that may or may not be beyond my limits--I'm gonna do it. If it brings me joy and I learn and grow, then why wouldn't I?! The time will pass, no matter what I choose to do with it.
Most importantly, I feel like I have lived many years in the last 4 1/2 years. I might even venture to say that I have bent time. I have learned how to hear myself, trust myself, and am learning to make pursuing a joyful life front and center, because Why wouldn't I? "A jug fills drop by drop," said Buddah. I may not have 10,000 hours in yet, but the jug is overflowing.