Thursday, October 30, 2014

Be Yourself, but Be Wolverine

The body is an incredible self-healing machine. We love stories where superheroes like Wolverine regenerate, but often this is more like time-lapse photography than something completely in the world of science fiction. In reality scars fade. We walk again on broken limbs. Even broken hearts mend. We aren't as amazed by it because there is no fast forward, but it is still just as amazing.

I think learning is similar. The curse of knowledge makes it difficult for us to remember what it was like to not understand something. It makes it tough for us to empathise with people who haven't had the same experiences. We tend to specialise in our work so much that often we don't even acknowledge how hard the stuff we have conquered is, so we don't feel good about it. We are often surrounded by people who do understand what we do, or at least share a common language/jargon. It is only in stepping out into places where what we know is different from others that we can recognise some progress we have made (while learning how little we know about other things).

Part of what makes learning exciting though is when you can 'see'  the progress. When you can be Wolverine. One of the reasons I like Yoga is that even after 5 years of practicing, I am still very aware of how stiff I am. There are many postures which it feels like my body is telling me are impossible. Two things help though. When I am practising regularly*, I often have a moment somewhere, not necessarily on the same posture where I go slightly further than I have ever gone before. That is an awesome feeling. It is only slight improvement but it feels great. Where I really notice it is when I introduce someone new - particularly someone who is as much of a ball of stress as I was.

I don't think a love of learning can be all about the end game or goal. We have to enjoy the process, and part of enjoying that is finding a way to be able to see the progress.

*Regular Practice - Rule of Thumb
1 time  a week to maintain interest
2 times a week to maintain level
>3 times a week to improve
Daily to be Wolverine

'Always be yourself, unless you can be Wolverine, then always be Wolverine'
(or Batman or a Unicorn or a Pirate)

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