The difference between proficiency and mastery is ten thousand hours. Being REALLY good at something isn't a function of your natural abilities, nor is it a question of the amount of money you spend on gear, and it's not the quality of coaching and instruction you receive over the years, either, though there is a lot to be said for good genetics and the power of working with others to achieve your goals. Nope. In the end, mastery is a function of time. It really is just like Grandma used to say: practice makes perfect.
Which explains why I am so good at flicking the bean.
In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell argues that you have to have all three: time, talent, and opportunity, in order to be stunningly successful in this world, and that may well be true, but if you simply want to be really really good at something, then be like Nike and just do it. And do it and do it and do it again.
Be persistent. Like a kid. Ever noticed how determined a child can be when they really want something? I hear it in my sleep, "Mum, can I have a puppy?" Just like that! There it ... no wait... I'm awake. It's been this way every day for years now... It would have been much less work to just get the damned puppy in the first place. Its absence has been a dogged, persistent presence in this family for many a year now.
Sadly for you, dear reader, I am quite new to blogging, but don't worry. I'm persistent, too. At this rate, you can expect to find a really good post right here in approximately seventeen years. You might wonder what on Earth would possess me to undertake such a task when so many people already do it so well and I so clearly don't. That is a valid question. I often ponder the very same thing.
You know who does it right, right? Bike Snob. He writes every day, like it's a real job, like a pro. He's definitely put in his ten thousand hours, and really, he's said pretty much everything there is to say about bikes and the sorry lot that ride them in the five years or so he's been writing his blog, too. Plus, he's funny. I love funny. Everyone loves funny. That's why it's better to get your news from Snobbers, Mercer or Colbert instead of from CNN the CBC or the BBC.
Everywhere you look for news this week, everywhere you listen, everyone's going on about the USADA and its case against Lance Armstrong. It's in your face. Bike Snob dubbed it Shitstorm 2012, and I thought he summed it up rather eloquently, thus:
Age of Innocence: Won't Somebody Think of the Children?
Anything is possible, if you've got the time...
I vaguely remember the Montreal Olympics. Everyone figured the Russians were doping, and then a few years later on it was the Germans. Last summer in London there was a lot of speculation about exactly what happened to young Ye Shiwen that she suddenly metamorphosed from being a strong swimmer, an average Olympian, if you will, to setting an astonishing world record, and all in such a very short space of time. From the Guardian:
The American John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, said the 16-year-old's performance was "suspicious" and said it brought back "a lot of awful memories" of the Irish swimmer Michelle Smith's race in the same event at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Smith, now Michelle de Bruin, was banned for four years in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample.
He called it disturbing. For as long as I can remember, the question of doping has been a non-question, and the understanding that organised doping exists in organised sports is a great big fat McDuh. The USADA's reasoned decision points to organised doping all over the sport at the time Lance Armstrong was winning Tour de France titles. No one is surprised. Not many people would be surprised today, either, if they were to hear that Ye Shiwen's world record was anything other than the product of the very best medical technology available to the Chinese government, either, would they?
So now you see why I really must take my hat off to Lance Armstrong. Not for the 'using of the dope' bit, because show me someone who is actually, really clean and I'll show you an alien. Not that, no. I take my helmet off to him for being an evil genius mastermind on top of everything else he was doing. Anyone who can be the ringleader of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" all the while training and racing and fighting cancer and stuff, well, he's a renaissance man for the new millennium, that's what he is. It has to take at least fifteen thousand hours to master the art of 'ring-leading' the most sophisticated professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen. Maybe even twenty. And remember, sport has seen a LOT of ' sophisticated doping programs' over the years.
And now that the code of silence has been shattered, everyone is confessing for the future of the sport. Bike Snob goes on to say "I wish they'd stop short of invoking the prospect of hope for the next generation." And holy fuck he hit the nail on the head with that one, because let's be serious for a minute, shall we? We're going to have to tread very carefully here. Children are intuitive. They're curious, and they notice stuff. That's why if we want to raise them to be good little
Don't worry, though. We can talk about it on here, because according to Google's Adsense, this is not a family friendly blog, and therefore it will never be festooned and adorned with pretty blinking knog lights like Bike Snob's is. Plus, I suck at taking pictures, (see below) so there really isn't anything to draw the children in.
You see? It's ugly and boring. Children will never read this, so lets get down to it.
We push drugs on our children from an early age, and we never ever let up. You want a 'for example?' Parents are strongly encouraged to have their children vaccinated at an early age, and when the baby is injected with a drug, the parents are then further encouraged to give their little babies tylenol, or paracetamol, which can damage the liver. Parents are not offered basic nursing techniques, those simple, safe solutions which bring down a fever. How often are new parents reminded that a low grade fever serves a useful purpose in and of itself? It's not that there isn't a place for a pharmaceutical advantage, it's just that our 'health care' system always goes there first. This is a drug culture.
Actually, drugs are the least of our problems. Once you're aware of all the hormones and antibiotics and toxins in the global food supply, then you have to look at pesticides. Oh, and remember it's easy to transmit nasty little critters like ecoli and salmonella in food, too, so maybe you might just want to add a little IRRADIATION to it, HMM? Then, when you go on and think about how genetically engineered foods are seriously toxic, once you understand what all of those hormone mimicking, endocrine disrupting neuro-toxins in many household cleaners, perfumes, personal care products and even meats do to your body, and once you are aware of all of the other environmental hazards you encounter every single day.... once you consider ALL of THAT, what then? What can you do?
Well, once you've come to that lonely, scared place, then the only thing do is sit down and have a great meal, a drink, and a laugh with your friends.
That there is organised doping in sport is way beyond obvious. The whole planet is all doped up on so many levels it's crazy. It's the great big pink elephant in the middle of the room which no one wants to acknowledge. And it's insidious, too. Everyone gets behind the whole 'run/ride/walk/shave/don't shave for the cure' business. People are all "Oh, I don't mind the fundraising. After all, it's for a good cause..."
Please. If there is any part of Mr Armstrong's legacy which I really question, it's his tremendous contribution to the pharmaceutical industry. As he is the poster boy for science's pharmaceutical triumph over cancer's nasty claws, though, I suppose there is a bit of poetic justice in it...
And yet, it's all backwards. In twenty seven years, no one has ever died from vitamins. In the same period three million deaths have been directly attributed to prescription drugs. Everyone is quick to ensure that their children take no more than one multi-vitamin a day. There are so many good, healthy, natural ways to cure what ails us, and yet our very laws themselves promote drug use.
You think I'm exaggerating? I have one symptom which must be treated in order for me to have a good quality of life. There are two alternatives for treating the symptom, one a pharmaceutical drug, the other a strong dose of a natural mineral supplement. The prescription alternative masks the symptoms but leaves me feeling worse, and has a load of side effects, whereas the vitamin benefits and supports my general health in a few different ways, and leaves me feeling better overall. I can claim the prescription, pharmaceutical alternative on my tax return as a valid medical expense, but I can't claim the vitamin supplement, even if when my doctor prescribes it.
But what no one is prescribing, what no one is insisting upon, are the best, all natural, simple solutions to general health and well being. Children are always learning, always absorbing. Mum's suffering from depression, and what do they witness? Does the doctor tell mum that she must exercise an hour a day to boost her brain's own happy drugs and reverse the progression of the disease? Ah, no. Mum's doctor prescribes drugs. Depression is a part of life at one time or another for many people, and more and more so as our world makes less and less sense. In the best of all worlds, when children are touched by such a thing, they should also be witness to the things which cure..
Living foods in the right combinations are the very best medicine. Well, that, combined with movement, meditation, laughter and lots of good healthy loving, of course. Food is the key to vedic healing, though, food and medicinal herbs and spices. The food guides as we know them today have more to do with commercial interests than they do with health and well being. A real food pyramid is green on the bottom and it doesn't include growth hormones, pesticides, or genetically modified ingredients. If children spend ten thousand hours witnessing healthy lifestyles as a response to sickness and disease, they won't be so quick to pop a pill when life gets uncomfortable.
As a race, the way we care for ourselves and our planet is shocking. It's horrifying, even, once you notice the enormity of our mistakes. Did Lance use banned substances? I wasn't there so I can't say, but it surely appears that way. Was he singularly to blame for systemic doping across the board? C'mon. Maybe he had the time, talent and opportunity to be at the front of the team which did the best job of doping, and maybe he was the man who benefited most from an institutionalized policy of looking the other way, but he would have had to have been a bona fide super hero to be wholly responsible for that whole mess.
On Wednesday, Big Johnny on Dirty Cyclist said:
I got a text message this morning that read, “Today is the crucifixion of Cancer Jesus.”
It does seem a bit like he has been offered up on the alter of sacrifice to our drug-addled, highly hypocritical ways. Cheating in sport is as old as sport itself, as we offer enormous reward to our winning heroes. To the victor go the spoils, and all that. The science of sports medicine is so advanced, so evolved, that it takes a real world class team to pull off the kind of organised doping that was occurring in cycling at that time, and surely at this moment, there is another team, either in this sport, or in another, which is working hard on the latest, greatest new way to win. I'm waiting on genetically modified athletes, myself.
All we have is time, and all we ever do is spend it. How we spend it says everything about who we are. (You know how I spend mine!) In the end Lance Armstrong is the one who has to live with his choices, just as I have to live with mine. And what of the children? What of the future of sport, and the future of humanity itself? For the children, it's time we got honest with ourselves. Lance was a product of his time, just as our children will be the product of theirs. What we model now, the things we teach them, and the world we create for them will be a reflection of the kinds of attitudes we hold today.
Which is a little frightening...
I can accept that drugs are a part of the modern world, though I am careful which ones I indulge in these days. I would like to be known as the pusher of the greatest drug known to man, and that's the real reason I write this. Oxytocin. The love drug. It's a hormone that's responsible for the romantic attachment between couples, for sexual arousal and emotional bonding between sexual partners and even between for bonding between pets and their owners, and it's the one chemical which will truly make this world a better place. Hug your kid. Cuddle the cat. Make love to your spouse and this world will actually be be a better place.