Thursday, January 03, 2013


I know a teacher who studies a new subject or skill every few years so she remembers what it is like to be a student and keeps her teaching fresh and responsive. I admire her for her dedication in following this inspirational theory, but I show considerably less commitment each time I try the same technique.

I have a German dictionary, a beautiful jewellers tool set and two bicycles (among other abandoned, yet aspiration items) that bear witness to my love of new activities and my short attention span regarding anything that isn’t directly mentioned in Shakespeare.

As a control freak with an eye for detail that … wavers … I used to hold an unhelpful belief that I knew stuff, a lot of stuff, and I coasted, unwisely, on that belief. Last year I started the year feeling in control of the usual stuff, the stuff I always felt in control of, and within about two months everything went seriously awesome.

I was invited, repeatedly, through a new job, new friends and new information, to become a student again. I felt in control through the first few lessons of 2012, but things rapidly escalated and I became ever so slightly addicted to the adrenalin rush of having to learn many things really fast.

I ended last year learning some seriously new skills from people I respect greatly, and I seem to have become comfortable with this carefree student attitude again. Which means I had better prepare for another interesting year! I predict that I will be required to improve that wavering eye for detail, I hope that I will be required to cede even more of my lovingly horded control, and I suspect that I will still have a lot more fun than is strictly necessary.

Today I talked to a workmate with whom I had not exchanged a single word for a full year, only nods in the corridor. We were in the lunchroom together and I asked him if he had eaten too much food for Christmas. He told me that he and his family had eaten so much he still had the Christmas cake he made, fondant icing remaining untouched. This grandfather had the tattoos of a young man, and his face lit up as he described the cake, baked to a recipe from “that English Sheila on the TV”, Nigella was my first guess, for the win!

I love learning something new each day, especially something lovely and unexpected about another person. It is an exercise in freedom each day, requiring us to abandon old ways and adopt new ways.

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