Five Years From Now, What Will You Have Learned?”

“There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.” –  Lady Catherine DeBourgh from Pride and Prejudice

I love this line from that story. It makes me laugh and I think of it every time I hear someone say, “I wish I could sing,” or “Miss Jenny is so good at painting, I wish I could paint,” or “Uncle Ryan is so good at carving, I wish I could carve.” Learning to do these things, or anything for that matter, requires time and effort, and wishing will not make them so. I know this by experience. I have a violin sitting in a hard, black case in the corner of my living room gathering dust. Mr. Hot Stuff carted it all the way to China for me so I’d have it there, and I carted it all the way back from China. I love violin music, if I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. Problem is, I haven’t learned. I haven’t practiced the small amount that I’ve learned, and I am not proficient even at “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Becoming proficient requires time applied generously, at frequent intervals. Becoming a great proficient requires time and focus and more time, applied generously, at frequent intervals. Wishing I could do something won’t make it so.

At Tom Brown’s Tracking and Wilderness Survival School, he emphasized that if we wanted to become good at tracking, we had to do the “dirt time”. I haven’t done “dirt time” for tracking, that’s tough to do when raising six kids, but I did it for herbal studies, an important part of survival. Now my plan is to do the “dirt time” for writing.

I once heard someone say, “Make a plan for what you want to accomplish in the next five years. Think big. The next five years are going to pass no matter what. Live a plan so you can look back and say, ‘Look what I did!'” Five years is enough time to become proficient; maybe not a great proficient, but at least proficient. I’ve caught the writing bug. It may have come from some bit-o’-th’-blarney that some distant ancestor passed down through the generations. If I apply myself and focus, I just might become proficient by the time Arctic Boy grows up and moves out. If I study hard, I might become very proficient. To have a book accepted for publication would be awesomely cool. To become a great proficient, well that would be Austen-esque, and I’m not sure I have it in me. Mostly, I think the journey sounds like a lot of fun with some hard work thrown in. It could be a lot of hard work with some fun thrown in and that would be okay too.

Is there something you want to become proficient at in the next five years? What are the first steps to getting there?

winner-winner, chickendinner 🙂

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