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Learning… to Understand

Be careful what you wish for; or even better, think twice before you leap. These sentiments are always sound advice – too bad we always seem to realize it after the fact. You know all that 20/20 hindsight, etc., blah, blah, blah. No doubt the lessons in life can be hard hitting at times, supposedly to knock some sense back to you.

Sometimes the lessons are positive ones that lift us up and make us the better for it. More often, at least in my case, it seems life lessons knock you to the ground and hold you down by both arms. Yeah, I’m learning from these lessons but I swear – and no disrespect intended – I must have ridden to school on the short bus because my understanding is definitely on a slower learning curve.

We LEARN things rather simply. Learning is about accumulating knowledge. We absorb facts like a sponge in water. For example,  I’ve learned the laptop I’m writing this on is a Gateway  T6340u running Windows Vista OS (yes, this is old school!). But what do I understand about it? I don’t have the technical understanding about what makes all this come together. What actually makes the T6340u a T6340u? Or what makes the Windows Vista OS run. This understanding escapes me for now. I could make it a subject of study to gain that understanding – but for now, naw.

Webster’s On-line dictionary defines “Learn” as “gaining knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction or… and this is a big “OR” for me … “experience”. I should be the wisest man on earth by now with all the shit I’ve experienced. But it’s that damn understanding I have problems with. I like the way Webster’s defines it: “Understand” – “to grasp the meaning of, to grasp the reasonableness of”. Ok; reasonableness. That sounds attainable; somewhat doable, right? Oh God – give me reasonableness! Please! Can I pray for that?

I look at the man in the mirror and see the need to work on my understanding of things; many things to be sure. No specific details here, but in broad context it includes all the vital areas of life: my family, personal relationships (including both male and female), my work; and I think perhaps most important as it really affects all the other areas, understanding me. I’m my biggest mystery and I think that’s the biggest challenge for any us – trying to understand ourselves. But when we do, oh what a relief it must be! Mary, mother of Jesus!

It’s funny how things make more sense as we get older. That’s life and we can’t change it. Age brings maturity and, hopefully a little wisdom. No wonder older folks seem to always want to say something to youngsters. Sprinkle some of that acquired understanding around hoping to plant a seed that may take root in someone. Seems like it’s natural thing to do, life’s way of passing the baton I guess.

Yes, learning to understand – I’m starting to get it now. It takes some thought, a bit of patience and maybe some hard knocks.  Learning … to understand. It’s a life-long task. Hope I’m around long enough on this earth to get some.

© Marc Townsend

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