Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On learning...

I can recall several instances in my life, where I was called upon to learn a new skill. Sometimes it was out of dire necessity, sometimes out of choice. When we were young and attending school, it was viewed as natural. It was basically our job as a kid. To attend school and to learn. We also attended school and played afterwards, to acquire and hone our interpersonal skills. To learn how to interact with other people. Our parents worked and provided a household for us. That was their job.

Nowadays it has become not only trendy but commonly accepted, to view these years as a bothersome burden. Even in pop culture, education is seen and promoted as a waste of time and we've convinced our children that it's a 'psychologically scarring period' for young adults. What utter bullshit!! After school hours are largely taken up with young people isolating themselves away from actual people and living out their lives online in a world of make believe. No wonder we're breeding generations of morons who can scarcely tie their own shoes and who are socially retarded.

School, just as any other method of education, is NOT a chore. It is NOT a burden. It IS a golden opportunity. It IS a natural part of evolving into a sentient human being. To believe otherwise, is to condemn oneself to a life of limited opportunities. I'm not necessarily talking university here, unless you have a specific calling that'll justify incurring that type of debt. I'm talking the basics: English, math, science, geography, history and social sciences.

Learning anything new is not hard. All that is required is interest, concentration and practise. If a person brings these three elements to any learning session, they cannot help but succeed. Without interest however, they might as well not bother showing up. If a person does not want to learn, they will only waste their time and that of their teacher. Nothing happens overnight and most skills require some time to perfect. That is why they are called 'skills' and not simple deeds. I have become quite accomplished over the years, with the use of tools. If I were to think back on my first encounters with a hammer, I'd have to say that my thumbs were not very happy. Did I give up using a hammer? No... I went one step better. I learned not to hammer the snot out of my thumbs! As a result, I have gone on to complete many tasks in my life, which have brought me satisfaction and have also built up equity in many of the properties we have owned.

During my Naval career, I was called upon to become a radar tech, in order to move up to the rank of Master Seaman and progress in my trade as an RP 271 to an RT 272. I had had my share of naysayers growing up and if I were ever to have given credence to their assessment of me, I would never have been able to take on the daunting world of advanced trigonometry, binary math, electronics and microprocessors. Upon returning to my next unit, I would be responsible for the maintenance of countless Naval Combat systems, ensuring the ship's readiness and combat survivability.

For many people, the one thing which holds them back is fear. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule... This fear is grounded in a poor self-image. An image which firmly believes that what others think of us, matters more than what we think of ourselves. An image that tells us we're 'not good enough', or that we're 'less than'... endlessly comparing themself against others whom they see as being 'better' in some way. We settle for a life of mediocrity, never daring to challenge ourselves or expand the envelope of what we think we know. Again this is unhealthy, dysfunctional thinking. Where does it stem from? Our parental upbringing, just about every ad you'll see or hear in the media, our friends and relations... the sources are endless. And all are wrong!

But just as surely as we have learned to think and feel wrongly about ourselves, we can choose to replace these ideas with healthier ones of our own design. Impossible? Not at all. As I've already said, all you need to bring to the table is an interest in making this happen in your life, the concentration and the practise. It really is as simple as it sounds. By employing these three elements, there is nothing you can't accomplish. It is just as easy to believe that you can do something, as it is to believe that you can't. It is far more reasonable and healthy to have faith in your own perception of self, than to turn over control of your life to strangers. The only difference is in the end results.

Probably one of the worst things I hear on the phone from some of our older callers, is that: "Ohhh...I don't own a computer. I don't want to get into that stuff... I'm too old for that...". Too old to learn? I don't think so... God forbid that I should reach a stage in life where I give up. Where I stop doing anything I love... like learning. How beaten down have you become, when the prospect of stimulating your mind seems like an effort not worth making? And this comment I hear from people younger than me! My friend, I sure as Hell wouldn't want to be in your skin in another 10 years...

But then again, this is only one man's opinion. :)

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