THE EARLY LEAD: Practice makes perfect


Sports Editor


No one ever shares the secret.
They never tell you life is one long, grueling practice. There is no pinnacle, no final championship for us to achieve, unfortunately. But that’s OK, it’s not as depressing as it sounds. Life is about the small victories, the ones that pile up and create a hall of fame career.
We practice to survive, to enjoy those precious moments of freedom.
That’s the secret, see. We are always in a state of trial and error. No one truly has this thing figured out. If they say they do, it’s an elaborate lie. Life takes patience. There’s no blueprint to living to the fullest. We just have to navigate the meandering river on our own.
That’s exactly what we are doing at the moment. We can’t necessarily plan for what is occurring throughout the world, but we sure as hell can practice empathy and compassion.
Life is a never-ending journey of education. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a father for well over a decade now, or perhaps it’s because I’m closer to the age of 40 than 20, but certain moments seem to speak to me, even if they do after the fact.
When you’re growing up, dragging your body through the daily ritual of early morning practices or at hot, skin peeling mid-day batting sessions, we never fully realize what it is preparing us for. We thought we were training to win a conference title, or for that rare moment of glory, when you finally hit one out of the park. But in reality, we were training for adulthood, massaging and developing a work ethic that hopefully lasts for the remainder of life.
It’s a funny and odd thing how much sports translate to adulthood. Frustratingly, there are a handful of gifted athletes who can pick up anything, be it a sport or a new skill, and instantly be great at it, but for the rest of us, those repetitions drilled into us during high school and before preparing us for the greatest foe of all. The daily grind is an opponent we will forever battle. Most of us clamor hard enough just to stay alive, and if we implement the lessons we learn along the way. If we do that, we will come that much closer to fulfillment.
Practice truly does make us better. I practice every day. I’m constantly honing my craft, whether that is writing, reporting, interviewing or through sales. Parenting takes work as well. It certainly is not easy. That’s why humans are blessed with long lives, emotions and a survival instinct. We learn how to grow with our children, how to teach and how to mold them into upstanding citizens. They need us to help them practice.  
Practice really does make perfect, as the cliche goes, or as close as we can get. Our lives are one giant practice session. We practice cooking, sleeping, working and we even practice leisure time. Hell, I’ve caught myself practicing disc golf a ton these days, wanting to excel in a sport I know little about. I even practice my reading comprehension and writing skills. It’s a constant battle to see how much better I can become.
Learning is a thing of beauty, and I don’t plan on giving that up anytime soon. I lost the drive to learn a few years back, but now it’s returned, and the burn is stronger than ever. If you think about it, learning is practicing. Learning to drive comes with more and more hours on the road. Successful relationships sprout from learning how to connect with one another, by way of dates and continual communication. Love usually doesn’t come instantly.
Today, I urge us all to practice genuine sympathy and having an open mind. Let’s step away from the constant politics and practice our listening skills and enjoy some, gosh-darn it, good old fashioned family fun. Try to connect with each other, and work on something new, even if it’s a hobby.
It’s funny how the mundane responsibilities from our young lives eventually teach us about the world. Practice is the window to happiness, don’t forget that. One day soon, I hope to share this secret with my son. Until then, keep honing that craft, success will follow someday.

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