The practice principle certainly applied itself over the last couple weeks on the trail. There were very few things that I did on the trail that I have either ever done or done very often, and boy, was I a rookie!
The range of new experiences went from the mundane (learning to walk in giant boots) to the highly specialized (finding my way into an outhouse that is under five feet of snow, sorting through five layers of clothing and coming through the experience dry).
I no longer have to be helped into a small plane and buckled up like a small child; I can do it myself. I no longer need to be reminded to put on hat and gloves ANY time I go outside. I no longer need to be coached through every new experience; I have learned to watch, listen, and assimilate. I have also learned to speak up and ask questions when something looks more specialized than I understand or relax and let things happen around me until I begin to feel the rhythm depending on the situation.
When a dog team, off course in a checkpoint, runs toward me, I no longer step out of the way, I reach for a gang line. I am no longer too shy to speak to a stranger who I find interesting. All of my new experiences have met with positive outcomes, mostly due to the kind and caring people that accompanied my adventure. Though there were obviously many people around me that were quite skillful at the tasks I found challenging, I was never afraid to give it a try as someone always had that gentle teaching tip that solved the dilemma.
The practice principle always works best when you are not afraid to make mistakes, and the Iditarod community gave me the confidence to try new things and make more than a few mistakes. They inspired my trust that they would never allow me to make a dangerous mistake.
I have learned so many skills during my time on the trail that I will probably use daily. Over the next few weeks I will try to share as many of those gems with you as I can, but nothing is better than experience, so get out there and try something new, don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two and practice, practice, practice.
While I was in Nome I became enamored with the hundreds of ravens that supervise the city streets. I have begun a study of them and boy, am I making a few mistakes. Take a look at what I have so far, and I will share again in a while when my mistakes are different ones.
Still learning from the trail,