Palimpsest

I’ve been taking the same class for twenty years.

Well, not exactly.

But I still remember walking into the room where my first CPR class was to be held. Bleach stung the air. The plastic mannequins rested on blue mats, placed just beyond the industrial grey tables and molded plastic chairs of the kind that you know will be uncomfortable after a few minutes.

I wasn’t there to be comfortable. I was there to learn CPR. I had bought the book ahead of time and studied the slightly cartoonish pictures and had absolutely no idea how any of this might apply to me someday putting the heel of my hand on a person’s chest and pressing down in a rhythm that on that long ago day had not yet seeped into my bones, become part of a muscle-memory that’s now much too deeply engraved to ever be erased.

Malcolm Gladwell’s statistic on the amount of time it takes to master something is 10,000 hours.

What’s that mean, though?

10,000 hours, assuming you work full time at 40 hours a week, breaks down into about 5 years of nine to five work.

What’s that mean?

That means doing whatever-it-is so many times that you remember the first time you did it, the eleventh, the twenty third, the four hundred and twelfth. It means remembering different times in a shifting deck of instances, of the time this happened and the time that happened and several hundred times in between, until all of those times inform the current one without you being consciously aware.

I’m there in my day job, of which CPR is still a part. I’m over my five years in. And I’ve got that shifting deck of slices of time.

I’m waiting anxiously for it to happen with writing – and slowly, slowly, it seems like it is.

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