Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Practice of Practice

As a rule of thumb, I expect to do a design project three times before I am satisfied. The prototype always has a few bugs and may not even work at all, but you learn a lot and can expect success with the second version. The practice you had with the first two attempts finally pays off with close-to-perfection on the third try, with a product or process you can be proud of. It all comes down to learning from your mistakes. But you can't make the mistakes unless you make that first attempt.

Society is perched on the precipice at the beginning of the Great Decline. There is much angst and pessimism about the implications of “peak everything.” Gradually we will move from denial, to anger, to acceptance of our condition. Discontentment on this path is the impetuous we need to make personal changes in our lifestyles and careers. The steps from frustration to realization is practice.

So, the first time you bike to work and get caught with a flat tire you can't fix; you still got home and you will be better prepared next time. The garden you planted where the squash overran everything else; you managed to get a lot of squash and you know better for next time. Your great solar charcoal-making, algae-burning, carbon-sequestering device makes more smoke than heat, but you have your data point and you know where to go next.

With practice, your mind is active and engaged; you are in the moment. You are acting for yourself, your family, community and planet. You get the satisfaction of new knowledge, the pride and rewards of your own accomplishments. The satisfaction doesn't take much money – just practice.