remembering how to learnI've learned a lot of stuff. No, that doesn't even come close to what I'm trying to convey. I was born on a learning mission, with a will to learn. Possibly we all are, it's just that I never did get distracted from that, as many do. well, okay, maybe I got distracted a few times..
Even the most disastrous "events" in my life; and there have been many; are experienced first from the viewpoint of "learning experience". Everything else comes second1. I live by an unspoken motto that, if spoken, would probably go something like.. "there will never be an "error", disaster or mistake, that does not contain some useful learning experience, a lesson for my life."
Of course there are other mottos I live by, but this is among the most successful, like that Richard Burton one, not the movie actor, the sufi explorer.. "He noblest lives and noblest dies, who makes, and keeps, his self-made rules". This Earth is a school, no?
By "useful", I do mean "of use", and not trivially, but in some fundamental, life-changing way. I think probably if the things we learn don't change our life, even in a small way, then more likely we just think we learned something. There is a simple test: if you really did learn something, you will now be a different person, changed; crucially, you will do different things.
Even simple, technical truths like never buy desktop hard-drives!2 will, once they finally sink into our sleepy brains, have life-changing effects.
I've learned a lot of useful things. Most of it now so instinctive it takes others to spot it, like last week when I was looking for some advice on a poster I'd made. I slapped the thing into her hand and said..
"What's wrong with it?"
Clever, huh? She thought so too. But, how else do you get an objective, useful opinion outta some one?
See, it only took showing design work to a couple of folks a long time ago, to realise that if you want an honest, objective response, sheepishly asking "do you like it?" is not the way to get it.
Next phase of experiments involved explaining how I am looking for an honest opinion, and could they please try and be objective, and all the rest, more pointless talk. If you show creative work to people you might have tried this strategy, too. of course it's futile; humans generally want to please their friends and will say it's "nice". Even if you offend them first it still doesn't work!
I realised that I would need to focus their mind firstly on finding what they considered not nice, aka "wrong"; cut them straight to the chase. I need their help only in finding the flaws, I can already see the good points!
"What's wrong with it?" works brilliantly. If they can't find something wrong, they consider themselves to have failed, and they keep looking.
If you're a creative sort that gets other folk's opinions of your work, then you've just picked up something valuable, something beyond value, in fact, I've given you a tool, as much as emacs or vi is a tool, which will enable you to get results, save time, and more.
In the future, when folks catch on to our little "What's wrong with it?" ploy, the landscape changes a bit, sure, but we won't get caught out. In the end it'll likely settle into the culture as sort of a useful language construct signifying the need to cut to the chase, get objective minds functioning on the immediate task of criticism. sort of a short-cut. We've got a good few years on the crowd, though.
I reckon this is why emacs and vi (like my blog) are free. They were designed first and foremost with the notion of making tools available. Especially tools that currently are not available, at least, not widely, and not free. An honourable hacker tradition. Of course, if you want to give me a million bucks, I won't say no.
(I'll need another blog for this idea!)
All that code (and particularly with emacs, there really is a lot of it) is there with a purpose, and that purpose isn't "getting rich", which some software "companies" do use as the motive for outputing all sorts of pricey useless shite into the market, which makes finding good tools a challenging task, particularly on the Windows platform, though certainly There's poetic justice in that, don't you think?
So we end up using inferior tools, and paying through the nose for them, which reminds me; something I MUST share; how weird is this..
On a planet (Earth) who's surface is two-thirds water (yup), almost no one knows, (wait for it..) that the best, most tried-and-tested ancient-wisdom way to unblock your nose, is to (drumroll please..) sniff a pinch of water. yup. just a pinch, one for each nostril, bang goes your blocked nose, bang goes your stuffy headache. Thoughtfully, the applicator has already been installed at the end of your arm.
If you have no fingers, find a raindrop.
If you have no rain, ask a bird to help.
If you want "advanced" healing, just add a wee visualisation to your water, especially at crescendo, that point where it vapourises on your sinus. ahhhhh.. And it's perfectly harmless to do it just for fun, too, though not more than a few times a day; it's powerful powerful medicine.
okay, okay, I'm an Aberdonian, so saving money on everything, including nasal spray, is normal for me. But more than that; this is what nature intended for me, and of course, unlike pharmaceuticals, it's totally free. All the best healing is..
Know, in the past ten years I have been to see a doctor exactly once, and I have the best doctor in Aberdeen! His advice, by the way, was; "do you drink a lot of coffee?" I switch brands, and all is well, thanks doc!
Drug companies don't want the world to be a better place, or humans to be happier and healthier; they want your money. And frankly, they want you unhealthy, too. You see, they are working on drug-B, which combats the awful side-effects of the current wonder-drug, drug-A. I learned this. Bets are already off for the eventual emergence of drug-C, and another trillion dollars annual profit. Thanks to, well, not me.
This amazing water stuff I'm talking about is the very same substance that falls out of the sky, flows down our mountain-sides and into our rivers and kitchen taps, if we are fortunate enough to have such things. It is also available in wells and bottles and seas, all over the world. Two pinches, bang bang.
Question is; why didn't any of the doctors and nurses and speech therapists, vocal specialists and so-called singing teachers I went to see about this matter as a sinus-troubled young singer, know this? None of them were stupid, but they did lack information I consider vital to their profession.
Ten years from now (me writing this) We'll do a google search for "what's wrong with it?", and another for "yogi sniff water unblock". That'll be interesting. Are you game?
I got the information from an old fisherman, years before, I'd just forgotten it; that area of memory has so many blank bits. They used to congregate at the harbour after a good hawl, at the cornerstone house just up from the sea-wall, along from my home in Sea Lane. I could throw stones into the waves from my window. Strong, vibrant, mostly old men, smoking pipes and drinking spirits, telling stories, laughing. Even the dogs would laugh.
Sometimes, a young me would go along to "help-out", and just hang around. I've had other good stuff pop out of that seam of memory, too. Picture; our young singer is coughing violently one day, and the image flashes before his eyes; auld Donald had started his demonstration with a cough you see, a huge billowing cough that spluttered all the wee conversations wide apart, and made a big space for his big words..
"Watch" he says, and then demonstrates his proven technique4, eyes rolling back to the heavens, once, twice, winks, then goes all quiet and says (except in a broad Johner5 twang I won't even attempt to spell, but will simply translate into plain english)..
"Amazing isn't it, on a planet two-thirds covered in water, almost no one knows that the best way to unblock your nose ..."
1: So really I'm just asking for it, right?
2: By the way, NEVER; and I do mean NEVER, in capitals; NEVER buy "desktop" hard drives. The next range up will be "server" or something like that; go for one of those. don't forget this. Potentially I just saved you a year's work here, maybe more. If you trust my advice, that is.
3: p.s. if anyone has a spare 60GB+ hard drive lying around, contact me at the usual address
4: The yogis "discovered" it thousands of years before, too. but that takes nothing away from the vast number of modern-day "discoveries" that have also been known for millenia. clearly some truths need the occasional airing.
5: a.k.a. Johnshaven, or 'Johnner', a small coastal village thirty miles south of Aberdeen. quiet place