There are times in everyone’s life when a simple look around can teach more than all the knowledge in an encyclopedia.
What do I mean by that? Many people think learning can only be accomplished in a classroom. Valuable lessons are learned there. Just as many lessons are also available walking down the street. Some people do not think that daily life has lessons to offer. There is a need for classrooms, but many of our most painful lessons will happen far from institutions of higher learning.
Granted, it is simpler to learn from a person who knows the answers. Teachers usually have the knowledge that we are trying to learn, without paying the cost in sweat and struggle. Just wrap the answers you need into a neat little package and present it with a bow. Ultimately, though, isn’t that a cheat? Our teachers have been through the process of learning that we now want handed to us. That devalues the information and deprives us of the work.
Many more things can be learned by the attempt to learn, even if we fail, than can ever be learned by suddenly “knowing” the answer.
Most lessons are learned through trial and error. This is true of the sciences, art, music, and the lessons that shape our personalities. Would you believe that a stove could be hot if you had never seen one before? If you had never seen it cook food? Would you know that you could get burnt unless you hurt yourself on the stove?
One must look upon everything as a potential lesson. The birds, the person who insulted you, your child, and everything else on this Earth should be seen as a lesson waiting to happen. Even the most crushing defeats can be turned into a tool to help you improve yourself for the next time.
While obvious sources of learning are easy to spot, many ignore the more subtle sources of experience we have available to us.
Books are a wonderful source of information. The “gold mine” of information and lessons that I found sitting in my library is invaluable. The characters of fiction stories go through trials and tribulations during the course of their adventures, and if I read closely enough, I should find the keys to avoiding their mistakes.
Music can hold lessons. The songs that touch your heart can teach something to you. One of the most powerful lessons I learned was from a song by Rod Stewart. His song “Forever Young” taught me that I cannot ever forget to tell those I love how much I love them. It’s something I thank him for.
In order to prosper from learning our lesson everyday, we must do several things. First we must have total faith in our ability to learn. It is frightening to discover how many adults think that they are unable to learn. We must be willing and able to recognize the lessons and learning experiences as we are presented them. We must then be able to apply our learning into our lives. Without these three things, nothing that we experience will be of value.
The point of this article is to show you how you may not need a teacher or “Master” to learn something. The most valuable lesson is the one you learn for yourself. It is sad but true that the most painful lessons are the ones we remember the best.
Everything in our lives can teach us something. Everyone has something to share and teach. Each living plant and animal can show us how to improve our lives.
Consider the mushroom. An unassuming little fungus, but it can teach a valuable lesson. Looking at him, growing next to his cousins and children after a rainstorm, teaches us about recycling. It is there to break down organic material into its component parts, then to die to help the process along. It creates the dirt that allows the next generation of plants to grow. The animals eat the plants, then die to be changed into dirt again by the mushroom.
Nothing is ever wasted by the mushroom, but it is up to us to realize that lesson when we see it.
This can be applied to anything, from the most esoteric question, to basic survival lessons. Looking at everything around us and asking what it has to teach us about our lives can be an illuminating experience. Teaching ourselves by observation makes the lessons we learn more personal. Many sages have told us the most valuable lesson is the one you learn for yourself.
We are here to learn. We learn by experiencing life. If we don’t experience life, we do not learn and we will not get the lessons we need to grow. If we do not grow, we may have to come back to another life and do all this over again.
Not all lessons are explosions and fireworks. The Lord and Lady have chosen to make a game out of the lessons we need to learn to capture our interest and hold our attention. Like all good teachers, they make learning fun. They’re most powerful lessons are as quiet as a zephyr and as easy to ignore as a mote of dust.
Look around you for a week. Treat everything and everyone as something to learn from. If at the end of that week, you do not feel different and a bit more enlightened, tell me, but at try it first.
Stars light your path.