The Master

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

April 4, 2024

In the book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, he states many times that you need to commit “10,000 hours to become an expert in anything.” To date, I’ve had the wonderful experience of living for approximately 345,582 hours. I’ll admit, I’ve probably spent about a third of that time sleeping or trying to sleep. So, let’s say I’ve spent approximately 230,388 waking hours in this flesh-encased body.

I’d like to think I’m becoming an expert at living this life of mine. Am I perfect? No. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Have I survived thus far? Also, yes. Do I intend to survive for at least 345,582 additional hours? Absolutely. Will I be an even wiser, more confident, and proficient master of my life at that point? Fingers crossed. As far as I‘ve gleaned, as long as the number of times I’m able to stand up exceeds the amount of times I’m knocked down by at least one, I’ll be moving the needle in the right direction.


In the last year, I’ve read many fiction books. The world of fantasy and imagination were not in my previous repertoire, but I’m grateful I was nudged in that direction. It’s true that everything happens for a reason. And as Neil Gaiman wrote in the novella, Coraline, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

When you enter the world of fiction, anything can happen. Evil can be all encompassing yet still be defeated. A protagonist may resemble more of an antagonist until you finish the tale. And you may find out the desire to find and feel love has more to do with a connection and commitment than it ever had to do with perseverance and struggle.

In fiction, anything can happen. And as a parallel in reality, anything can happen. We hold our destiny in our own hands. And we write our own stories. We are experts in our own experience, and it’s time we embrace that. We’ll never know the story of another human unless we listen and hold space for them. And they’ll never know ours if we don’t do the same.

As Maya Angelou wrote, “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

Let’s all share our stories. Let’s share our failures. Let’s share our triumphs. And let’s remember we’re all aspiring to be experts at living our own lives.