10,000 Times Answers All

The Real Meaning of 10,000 Repetitions and What You Can Do While You Are Doing Them and Whether or Not You Need to Do 10,000 repetitions Before You Are An Expert.

10,000 repetitionsThis is a piece about the old saying that it takes 10,000 repetitions to really master anything and the huge number of people who believe this because they were told it. And this calls on people, including myself, who have actually done 10,000 repetitions of something or even of more things.

And not just done the repetitions over a long period of time and then they decide that they already deserve credit for 10,000 unconscious repetitions even though they did not actually count those many repetitions like one, two, three counting…

But some people–who do not mind repeating a thing or an act–set themselves to do 10,000 repetitions in a row, without any practices that were not 10,000 repetitions of the same movement or sequence. Just a kind of repeating and drowsing at the same time without distinction.

They were told–and they believed–this idea of 10,000 repetitions, and set out on this journey with a single step and they followed with another step and the steps brought them along but also, at first, seemed tedious. And as they went the steps kept following and they had to convince their feet to continue repeating each of the 10,000 steps they stepped while taking each separate step. And repeating a thing, any thing, 10,000 times like a personal song, means that you first have to step 10 times and then do those ten steps ten times amassing another ten times while they were stepping also ascending in this case four plateaus of ten; and still trying to keep the idea of 10,000 repetitions in mind even though the feet have started to whisper “that’s enough.” At first, each and every step (even bad ones), until the first 100 repetitions is counted by the repetitious voice telling you that you do not have to do this any more, this stepping these 10,000 times.

And even with such a demon whispering in your ear and you making up reasons to stop, you still step and each step seems to enlarge the debate, volume and temper. These steps follow you and you repeatedly imagine yourself as a person at the head of a very long line of people, leading them around a skinny mountain road. And if you stop, your cohort will walk over you and send you into that valley below the razor’s edge road and with that cut off all the steps you have already stepped of the 10,000 repetitions that will make you a master when you finish, guaranteed.

And even thinking thought by thought about doing 10,000 repetitions, all step by stepping, can play with your heart and a friend of mine would prepare for a 10,000 day mass practice by setting his cot next to his leg and throwing many thousand punches until he fell over unable to continue. All this prepared him to continue and even through not continuing, become strong enough to repeat 10,000 steps or as far as he could get.

And then they all end in a stadium filled with fellows snapping their uniforms on count, some of them dropping over as your friend dropped but in his private practice of 10,000 repetitions beside his bed. Now no stepping, the huge lines do not permit, and the fatigue, the sweat running, the muscles cracking. Some times  slow, sometimes fast, yet all that same repetition with you trying to dive in then slowly operate your swift strikes. A shape moves out–and you remember the thing your teacher told you, “10,000 times answers all questions.” And strike follows count, and the count you tell, one more notch, and 10,000 times each anew.

Your headache splitting , not really headache but your body changing so fast you cannot keep repeating fast enough. Your arms say even stepless arms must down; though you see something ahead in the corner clipping of your eye watching the 10,000 repeating the stepless steps, the machine gun strikes building dawn before your eyes, and the questions somewhere behind you. The questions spread over the stepping repetitions and the 10,000 new things you have done and then evaporate.

And you find the stepwise shape lodged in their eyes. And you can see they knew they would not give it to you, any more than you will answer that one single question not answerable.              


Inspired by Rose Steiner




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