Unless we’re in school or someone asks us where or when we learnt something, it’s not something we pay a lot of attention to when it actually happens. After a mistake has been made or a horrible experience has been struggled through, we come out the other end and if there is a second to sit and ponder, we often look back to see what good thing we got out of it. I witnessed one of my kittens, Saga, learn something today. She was sitting elevated on my lap and watched as her brother was chasing after a cat-toy I got them. (Most of it anyway, turns out the blood-thirsty little things have chewed off half the tail!) As she watched, her eyes started going more and more to where the wire was attached to the rod in my hand. Then they’d go back to where her brother was playing with the mouse-part of the toy, only to travel up to the wire and back to my hand. When she got down to play after, she played slower and gentler than she has done before. It was as if she had understood this toy did not have a life of its own, it was only manipulated by me for their benefit. Sure, she still looked like she was having fun, but she did not come close to the ninja-like efforts she has played with before when she couldn’t be sure the movements were cause by me. So today’s post is going to be about learning.
This is the most obvious place to learn. After all, it’s been created for that purpose. Once upon a time education was reserved for specific people; priests so they could read Latin well, then these priests passed it on to noble-men, then the rich, and somewhere along the line someone figured it was time for everyone. Not without a struggle. For the longest time keeping the poor and the worker illiterate was necessary to make the common man stay out of the rich or powerful man’s business. We wouldn’t want people to find out about their personal rights or laws now would we? It is hard to imagine a time when the ability to read was not important. When adding numbers higher than two and two together wasn’t all that relevant. When knowing what the capital of a neighbouring country was called was more of a random fact than a necessary one. Now I never went to school as a kid, I was home-schooled, with the good and bad that that sort of learning brings. However I’m the most dedicated student in my class-room now. The innumerable frustrations that I am beset by each day – an incompetent, addle-brained, stubborn teacher, disinterested and immature class-mates, a mess of a lesson-plan – drive me crazy. Never has learning been such a bother. But I can say that the special kind of satisfaction I get when the teacher hands me my test back and it has a huge “A – Very Good!” scribbled at the top corner, that satisfaction I can’t really compare to anything else 🙂
Friends and mentors
The knowledge you receive when someone decides they want to share a past experience or some special skill they have with you is impossible to match. It is information freely given, greedily taken, and I love learning this way. When someone shares something they consider relevant with me it makes me feel special and cared for. They are both letting me in on something that they will not share with everyone they meet, and expressing an interest in my well-being. Throughout the years I have been blessed with many such people. Daniel, Jessica and Tilda, Sarah, Sierra, Dave – oh Guru Dave! – Gerard, Minh, Phil and so many more. If I didn’t have these people in my life I don’t know where I would be now to be honest. I rely heavily on other the good advice of others, but only ever on the good advice of the people I respect the most. Good thing I am surrounded by people with brains.
Trial and error
This happens so often in life – especially the error part – that we have coined a term for it. No wonder. Few species have tried so many things and made so many ridiculous mistakes as the Homo Sapiens. People such as myself use this method a lot. I am in a place now when I am practising “Listen first, do after”. I have not been in that place for a long time. One specific event was the famous “Bannerman park pool” incident, during which I went swimming with a bunch of lovely and equally stupid people – you know who you are :p – in a public pool after closing hours, sneaking in through a whole that had been cut in the fence. When the cops eventually did come and I had blood trickling down my leg from a decently sized gash bestowed by aforementioned fence, I realised that was something I didn’t want to do again. Sure, I have a good laugh telling the story, but the memory of the night is still a wee bit more tragical than comical and I learned my lesson. If I ever forget I have a nice long scar to remind me.
The things you learn when in a relationship you can’t learn in any other way. Whenever I am in such a one, I learn things about myself that I had never even considered. You get a full-time course in the person whom you are dating and they hopefully try to learn something about you too. You learn what you want in life and what you don’t want, you learn how to make compromises, how to make promises and break them, how to apologise, how to feel like shit and how to feel larger than life and truly amazing. You learn a little more about who you are and who you want to be each day, what you can live with and what you can’t live without. You learn how to lose yourself, your dignity, your limitations and your heart. You learn how to trust and love unconditionally, and then fall down from the top of the mountain. It’s just important to remember that you can always get back up again. You might say “but what if you broke your bones?” Bones heal and there are crutches and gauze. Relationships are the ultimate learning experience in my eyes.
What’s an experience that you learnt something important from? Who has been a good friend/mentor in your life whose advice you will always remember?