Monday, December 1, 2008

Once more with feeling

In the aftermath of the test, I've had the thought a couple of times that, weirdly, I have already had almost this exact bad news -- a tumorous lymph node is messing with my left kidney, some other nodes on the retroperitoneal chain are growing but not huge, and there's mysterious crud on my lungs -- before. (It was earlier this year when "gem/tax the sequel" bombed at the box office.) 

And yet... it doesn't get any easier. Whether it's the whole post-hospital PTSD thing, a grinding away of my coping mechanisms, or something else, the tests, procedures and bad news are getting harder and harder to take. And this for some reason makes me think of Malcolm Gladwell and his thoughts on practice:

This idea - that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice - surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.

"In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals," writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, "this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years... No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery."
No wonder it's so hard. I'm a piker! A neophyte! Another 9,983 hours or so and I'll handle the bad news and those long waits in the doctor's office like a champ....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

always liked Mr. G.
Hang on SG, hang on.
I'm crushed to hear of this setback.
Anything i can do to help you, let me know.
Don't hesitate to call. Sending love.mld