That phrase use to make me think of an old Tom Cruise movie, or that song by the band Rush.
At a recent musical performance for a private party, my voice gave out during the last set. It ran wild and went nowhere. The next morning I sounded like someone who chain-smoked chimney-sized cigarettes even though I don’t smoke. It took about a week before my voice finally came back and it made me realize something. I am losing it.
It’s my fault, really. I never had any real training and had developed my voice more from instinct with a touch of ignorance. But when you go years developing a skill, you tend to have a grasp of when to stretch the wings or pull them back.
Here’s the mistake. You take it all for granted because in your youth, you didn’t understand or care that there were several components at work–physically, mentally and spiritually–when you used your mad skills. You just went out there and did it raw. You caught that football. You tore through that math proof with your mind. You made that masterpiece meal without looking at a recipe.
Then years go by and you drop the football (even if it’s under-inflated). You need that calculator to help with your kid’s homework. And last night’s dinner you made was: meh.
You get rusty and reckless with your skills and they start dwindling to mediocrity. You look in that mirror and instead of seeing that fist-pumping fellow that tells you to ‘bring it!’, you just stare at someone who looks a little lost in life.
Be grateful if this hasn’t happened to you yet, but there may come a day where your utility belt of skills will feel a little lighter.
There’s no life-hack here to fix this. If you see your skills going away due to years of neglect and age, you have to either give up and hand it over to someone else, probably younger than you, or you have to brush up and bring the magic back.
Even Mr. Miyagi was still out there on that stump doing his crane kicks.
Practice. Relearn if you have to, but don’t ever take a skill for granted. Cherish it and be thankful for it. If the physical component to your skill starts to fade, you will still be rewarded with the mental and spiritual side of it, and that’s when you can mentor and teach others.
In that way, you never really do lose it.