When I was a child I always found the somersault a difficult maneuver. Throwing yourself headfirst onto the floor just didn’t seem like a good idea. After years of martial arts training I got better at them, but never did perfect the technique until today. Today I executed the perfect somersault. The trick it seems is to have someone else, or in my case something else do the throwing you to the ground part…
Today during my horseback riding lesson I had just that experience. Well to be fair to the horse, he tripped and tried very hard not to fall. (He is such a wonderful horse he works very hard to keep students from falling, but none of us is perfect.) Long story short, I had just turned the corner after a beautiful series of jumps when the horse stumbled and fell. (We are both fine.) It happened so quickly that the only thought I had during the entire fall was “tuck”. But with only that thought (and the momentum provided by my noble steed) I was able to perform what my instructor described as the “perfect somersault”.
I credit years of practice with providing the muscle memory and instinct to fall correctly. For years instructors have been telling me that if I practice an activity or a move frequently enough the motions will become a natural reaction of my body. It was an amazing experience to see that in action.
So in this case practice (and a little help from the horse) made the perfect somersault.
Practice really can make perfect (or close to it). There’s even evidence to suggest that mental practice can be effective at improving competency in a skill. Imagine an activity that you would like to perfect. Now create a character who shares your goal, but has taken their desire for perfection to a whole new level. The character is obsessed with achieving perfection in this activity. Explore how they pursue perfection. How do they measure their perfection. Are there consequences to the lengths they go to achieve their goal. Aim to fill two pages with your short story “In pursuit of perfection.”.