When I was younger, I had no patience for revision. In my college years, I wanted to write a paper one time and be done with it. I didn’t understand the craftsmanship implicit in the process of going over and over my work, slowly improving it.
But there are times in life when a fresh approach is just what is called for, a change, a new way of seeing. Take this blog, for example. Initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to re-begin. I was just settling in with my first attempt. But this is a better URL and, in the long run, I think I’ll be happier here at Begin.
In customizing this blog, I surprised myself by creating a look, a color scheme, and a focus that I actually like better than my first. Improvement through revision.
As an increasingly devoted writer, revision is my salvation. When faced with that daunting blank paper, I don’t have to produce perfection. I just have to produce something. Then the revision process will let me slowly sculpt it into a finished piece that works.
The more I work through something, the more practice and experience I get with it. The more experienced I am, the better products I ultimately produce. That applies to writing, blogs, baking… and, of course, yoga.
Take standing poses. I approach them with the prejudice of not liking them. Particularly Triangle. Because they tend to be difficult for me to do as well as I’d like, I have pre-decided that I don’t enjoy them. I’m all set to falter before I even begin.
But the truth is, if I push my preconceptions aside, sometimes I really like Triangle. I’ve had practices lately where the standing felt effortless and fun. I enjoy the focused attention required to rotate my femurs, while also opening and twisting in my pelvis, aligning my hips and revolving my spine. An incredible amount of motion dances through this pose that appears so still. I love that paradox.
By approaching the pose again and again, I grant my body the chance to do it differently, to learn. I practice; I play. I revise.
Robert Cormier says, “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”
In writing and in yoga, I start from where I am. I am inspired and reassured by the knowledge that I can always do it just a bit better – through revision.