Some thoughts on learning:
One of the difficulties of being a teacher, and I’d imagine this applies to parents and people generally, is that you tend to end up giving a lot of advice which seems to go in one ear, and out the other.
About 1% of your advice actually gets taken up the way you’d like it to be. The other 99% will be (hopefully) considered, but not taken in. They will stubbornly refuse to change their behaviour, profess that they know what is right, and it’s only after having done things the hard way that they come to understand what you were trying to tell them many years earlier.
You know that what your parents tell you has wisdom, but you are foolish and young and inevitably decide not to follow it. You screw up, learn the lesson that they have been trying to teach you only after screwing up, and then realise years later down the track that your parents were right.
But you needed those foolish years in the middle to truly understand what they wanted you to learn.
I first watched this video of Steve Job’s Commencement Speech at Stanford’s 2005 graduation about two years ago. It made an impression on me but I didn’t really understand his message. Back then, it was just another inspirational talk which made me feel like my feelings of misdirection in life weren’t so tricky after all.
After I came back from a trip to China in July this year, I watched the video again. This time, I began to appreciate the idea of “connecting the dots” and finding something that you truly feel quite strongly for. The idea of never settling, and the idea of staying “foolish”, staying “hungry”. But still there were things that didn’t leave as deep of an impression, and I felt again that I was missing a connection with a lot of what he spoke about. Sure, I understood his message, but I only took away what I had already learnt and the fears which he seemed to articulate so simply and clearly.
When he passed away, I remembered back to his video and decided to watch it yet again. It’s amazing how quickly your mind can grow in a few months. Again, I took away new things and really was able to track the way my mind had travelled down different paths over the past few years. And I know it will continue to change its course every single day from now on.
Some people will never learn the lessons I have learnt because they have not seen what I saw and experienced my journeys in the same way. Similarly, I will never learn lessons they will learn.
A book might teach you how to live a life, but they won’t teach you how to live it. Learning comes through experience - it’s what happens when you read the same book 10 years later and understand it in a different way, or when you rewatch a movie you once loved many years ago. It’s what happens when you bump into an old friend and realise that they were not the person you thought they were, and what happens when you wake up one day and think: hey, maybe they were right.