In my Asian husband’s famous, not quite politically correct style, he declares, “You hold your chopsticks like a Chinaman!”
For the last two years, I’ve fastidiously worked on my chopstick technique. Recently I’ve had quite a breakthrough, mastering a particular technique that’s made me stronger and more dextrous.
I first picked up chopsticks as a child. Initially I was quite clumsy, like any American.
Now, a mere 20 years later, I am triumphant. My pride is thick in the air. I’m savoring this moment of transitioning from boor to expert. My effort has paid off.
Naturally I feel a strong urge to blog about it.
As you may or may not have noticed, learning any skill has similarities to lindy hop. Chopsticks are particularly similar in how stupid they make you feel if you can’t do it correctly the first time, and how much patience it takes to feel natural.
Allow me to explain. Behold…
10 Lessons Learned From Using Chopsticks
1. Discomfort is a natural part of the learning process. I’ve had many frustrating meals while dropping the simplest pieces of food. Especially when trying to fix a flaw, the discomfort may be almost unbearable.
2. A little practice here and there is better than none at all. My chopstick use is intermittent. Nonetheless, I work on improving my chopsticks skills every time I use them.
3. Listen to the people who know what they’re doing! Even if you are resistant like I am, file away the information so you can work on it next time.
4. Watch and mimic the people who know what they’re doing. My Korean friends may not know this, but I always sneak glances at their chopstick hand when we sit down for a meal. I repeatedly adjust my own chopsticks to try to match theirs.
5. Real friends won’t make fun of your efforts. The rest don’t matter.
6. Patience, determination, and attention to detail will take you a long way. You can’t rush the process simply because you desire to look like you’ve been doing it your whole life.
7. One the other hand, too much determination will lead to starvation. Perfection is unattainable, and you do have to eat at some point. Nourish yourself to sustain your reserves for learning.
8. Using proper technique slowly will help you far more than using sloppy technique quickly. If it takes me a few seconds longer to pick up my food, so be it. Creating a mess by trying to be fast shows impatience and overconfidence. Plus it’s embarrassing.
9. Test your learning by changing the circumstances. Good technique can be adapted to different types of chopsticks, different types of food. If a new circumstance breaks your method, you may need to continue working on it.
10. Finally, use the right tool for the job. As I sat struggling to pick up the last few mouthfuls of rice from my bibimbap, hand cramping like crazy, a Korean friend said, “You know, we use spoons for that.” It was a revelation.
We can’t be working on lindy hop all of our waking hours. Why not pick up a pair of chopsticks (or some other deceptively simple skill) and remember what it’s like to be a beginner? Engage in the learning process from a completely different angle. You may be surprised at what you discover!
What non-dance activity has helped YOU understand lindy hop better?
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