Why do you practice?
Whatever it is, from the alto recorder to tantric meditation to flossing your teeth, why do you do it?
Obviously you floss because, if you floss long enough, you’ll eventually have Perfect Teeth, and every smile will be blinding and turn you into the most successful gum-owner in the entire world. When that day comes, you will never have to worry about tooth decay, gingivitis, halitosis, or pay for another whitening strip again. Just keep practicing your flossing, eventually you’ll get it right, and then you can move on beyond it.
And that alto recorder, well, you spend the hours tooting and hooting on it so that when you are playing there with your window open some world-famous musician will be walking by and be struck by your brilliant expression and mellifluous tone. You’ll be signed to a contract with a big fat advance before you can say sforzando, and at that point, of course, your fingering and fippling and circular breathing will be so polished that you can just put it down and never blow a note again.
Tantric meditation, that one’s easy. You meditate daily with your partner because at some point, in the midst of the breathing and the deep gazing and the raising of kundalini you will reach a level of one-ness and unity that will forever banish any disagreements, fights, stresses, disconnection, taking-for-granteds or sexual incompatibility. That’s called “enlightenment”, of course, and as long as you practice according to the precise formula that can be gained (at a price) from any number of gurus, you’ll eventually reach that state of perfect love with that perfect someone.
I’m hoping that you realized that. Just in case you’re new to the blog, and this is the first and not the hundred-and-fiftieth (yay!) post you’ve read, I want you to know: I don’t actually think you should practice for fame or good teeth or enlightenment.
Personally, I think you should play a musical instrument because it’s fun. I think you should meditate because it will help you deal a little better with the weirdness and chaos of life. I think you should floss because…well, ok, I actually don’t have any visceral knowledge of why flossing is a good practice, but I know that if you use minty floss your mouth will taste good. How about “floss to be more kissable“?
“Me, I keep coming back to the idea of “having a practice.” A practice is lifelong. A practice promises no nirvana. The whole point of a practice is that we discover meaning (and define ourselves) in the act of struggle and the expression of aspiration.” – Steven Pressfield on “The Big Payoff“
So if there’s that practice that you haven’t been keeping up on: don’t worry about it. You’ve got your entire life, and quite frankly, even if you did it as well as you are imagining yourself doing it right now, the only reward – aside from a moment of satisfaction – is more practice.
The good news is: if you pay attention, the practice is reward enough.