When you can't sleep what do you do? I have had interrupted sleep for over 20 years so I have learned to adapt by think about things I might write about when I have my awake intervals. Last night I began to think about levels as they relate to achievement in all kinds of activities. Most of us are familiar with going through various levels of achievement when learning something new as well a struggling with breaking through to higher levels after we have practiced our skills for a long time. In my shelter in place isolation after the abrupt closure of the ski area there is time to reflect on a lot of things.
Here are some of my thoughts on breaking through to a higher level in some of the activities I have participated in. ( I just now finished practicing playing my clarinet. The instrument has languished in my closet for too many years. I never did become an accomplished player but did enjoy my days playing in my high school band even making to first clarinet. I guess the competition wasn't that great in my small school! To say the least I am really rusty. Fortunately my wife is tolerant of my squeaks and squawks as I hone my skills. The maximum level I hope to break through to is smooth enough to amuse myself.)
At the finish of the ski season on this past Monday I had a great day skiing at a high intermediate level. At least I thought that was the case. My buddies will have to verify that. I have always aspired to ski at a higher level, but have now reached an age where the body does not have the reaction time to tackle the moguls. I was lured into some easy tree skiing this season but quickly recognized I was pushing the boundary for my own safety.
When I retired at age 60 I pursued a life long desire to learn to play the piano. Our ten year old daughter at the time was taking lessons so I engaged her piano teacher to give me instruction. We had weekly lessons with exercises to be practiced during the week. Of course we both started at a very elementary level. While her progress was amazingly swift, I would take a month to accomplish what she did in a week! I took lessons for over 6 years but never was able to break through to a very competent level. No matter how much I practiced I kept hitting a wall. (The desire to make music on the piano has not left me now some 24 years later). Even though I know I am not likely to move beyond an elementary level I recently sat down to work on some simple tunes.
This brings me to thinking about tennis. I has been a life long sport for me and I both enjoy playing and watching the matches. The pros often talk about breaking through to a new level. Even the number 1 players will keep striving to up their level of play both in the short term in a match as well in the long term of their career. Often as the pro rises through the ranks they will speak of moving to a higher level. Breaking through doesn't always happy and staying the high level inevitably fails. Thus I conclude that working hard to improve is a laudable trait, but at some point one has to face reality! Do your best, make sacrifices that are healthy and then for your mental health accept your fate.