Poise, posture and balance - one look at the photograph above and you know that the surfer has spent a lot of hours on his board to gain the skills that he is exhibiting. Ten thousand hours in fact is the amount of time that, in Malcolm Gladwell’s opinion, is required to master a skill (Outliers, 2008, Little, Brown and Company). Ten thousand hours equates to spending 10 hours per week, for 52 weeks of the year, over the course of twenty years, working on a particular skill set. Spend that amount of time doing an activity and yes, you are likely to get pretty good. Yet, most of us spend every moment of every waking hour, using our sense of sight. Ten thousand hours of looking is nothing. A child has likely reached that goal by age three. Ten thousand hours though of observing, of practicing a long slow look and really seeing, with heightened awareness, that is perhaps something worthy of consideration.
The good news is that we can practice, anywhere: around the house, in our backyards, in the park across the street, on trips to the mountains, or on vacation in Sayulita, Mexico, where I saw the above surfer. Imagine spending ten thousand hours spent really seeing, with heightened awareness, the natural beauty of the world around us. What a nice way to spend some time. Heiso ni ari, is another zen phrase from the Japanese arts meaning ceaseless daily practice. I guess we’d better get started.