June 6 2013

Let’s see.

1. I went trap shooting on Tuesday, the first time in nearly two years. I managed to shoot nineteen on my second round, which made me feel pretty good. We won’t mention what I shot on my first round.

2. There’s a thing that happens in parenting, which is that one’s kids level up in the sorts of issues one has with them. And it is, reasonably enough, exactly just when one feels one has gotten a grip on the previous issues. We had a long talk with the kids yesterday — not for the first time, I assure you — about exactly what “learning” means.

It means failing.

If you got it right the first time, you didn’t learn anything. The, the process of learning is screwing up, accepting correction and advice, and doing a thing again, better this time.

Speaking as a former kid who coasted through my education until high school, I can say that this definition never occurred to youthful me. No-one likes this definition, of course. Most humans I’ve met really, really, really don’t like screwing things up. And many don’t like being told what to do better. But there you have it.

I rather hope that my kids take this understanding with them into adulthood. No-one expects you to be good at a thing the first time. Teachers are there to catch your mistakes and help you improve. You can try anything, confident that not much is expected of beginners and there are people there to help you. Failure the first few times through means try it again.

3. I started reading Seanan McGuire’s Kindle Serial, Indexing, and love it so far. I’ve only made it through chapter one, but there is a lot to love, here. Fairy tales. Cops. How to make your own life when others would make it for you.

I approve.

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One Response

  1. On your second point – yes, this is hard lesson. I continually struggle with my own expectation that just because I am a certain age or I have been working at something for a long time, I should be good at it. On my more rational days I can see that I am indeed getting better at aikido. I consistently get techniques to work several times a day. Back when I was in the middle ranks I was thrilled to have a technique really work once in three months. It helped a little to talk with my sensei who is a 6th degree black belt. She says her technique really works somewhere between a third and half the time. This is why I say that 10th degree is right up there next to god. There is no functional distinction between real aikido and magic.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am learning piano again after a break of 30 years. I am back at where I was in high school. I am enjoying playing a great deal, but I feel embarassed playing when people outside my household can hear me. Like when the windows are open and the neighbor’s kids are outside. Really, I know they could care less. I stil have a hard time screwing up where people can see me. I am working directly on that in my practicing. I just started taking lessons for playing for dancing. The key is to keep the beat, even if I screw up the notes or lose my place in the music. The learning never stops.

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