When I went back to curling about 12 years ago, one of my constant refrains as I settled into the hack at Leaside was, "Thank you, Lord, for teaching me humility." Each week, as I screwed up shot after shot (too heavy, too light, too tight, too wide, wrong handle...), I would remind myself that I was learning more than curling; I was learning to refrain from taking myself too seriously.
I worked away at my game, got a little better each year, and in March, the rink I skip won the women's league championship in Collingwood.
Saturday in Etobicoke at the rather fancy St. Georges club, I found myself repeating my old refrain, as we had our brooms handed to us by club curlers from across the province. We lost to rinks from Burlington, Toronto and Cornwall; it really was a cross-province lesson.
We also won one of our games, which was, frankly, more success than we expected, being first-time competitors at a level no one from our club had yet seen.
I'm taking some lessons from "The Humbling" as I call it:
1) You can never stop learning. I've ordered four books written by curling champions this morning and I plan to study, study, study all winter in hopes of upping my game.
2) Practice practice practice. At this bonspiel, competitors had seven minutes each to slide and throw rocks in advance of play. Those warmup rocks meant we were ready to make our shots right from the first stone, rather than merely finding our stride in the fourth end. Even that little bit of practice changed the tenor, pace and flavour of the game. Imagine if we practised on days we have no scheduled game!
There are more lessons from this experience, but I'm still sorting through my impressions and our brush with excellence.