[Above, you will find the scene from Spike Lee’s Malcolm X biopic in which Brother Malcolm takes up the dictionary and, thereby, begins his true education — one weighted word at a time. What follows is an excerpt from the final installment of the Try manifesto (so-called) I’ve been working on here of late. These two things are related. I swear they are.]
Practice: The Noun.
Lawyers and doctors have practices. So do priests and yogis. A practice is a vocation. It takes time, study, reflection, all in the context of a range of experiences, many of which are quite unpredictable. It’s not just work but a life’s work. One that often involves answering a call to something larger than yourself.
Practice: The Verb.
Practice is the act of teaching yourself. Other people can help you do it, but it works best if it’s focused, intentional, and self-directed.
When we practice — noun + verb — when we teach ourselves our life’s work — we’re also developing an extremely effective method of teaching others. A lot of this sort of teaching happens symbiotically and unintentionally. We practice in relative proximity to others who are doing the same or similar things and, thus, we teach by example and we learn by osmosis.
In my experience, this is usually the most powerful, integrative way to teach and learn.
As-salam alaykum (السلام عليكم).