Knowing vs. Learning

Knowing vs. Learning

I recently had the realization that I’m not very good at learning. Not because I’m not capable of learning or because I have a learning disability (at least not in the clinical meaning of that term). No, my disability is that I don’t want to learn anything, but I want to know everything.

That creates a real conundrum that gets exacerbated when in the midst of learning something new. And learning something new is exactly where I’ve been for the last 5 months—actually learning several new “somethings”, which adds to the complexity of the issue. Now I know that we are all always learning something new—that’s the nature of living. What I mean is that for the last 5 months, I’ve been learning multiple and specific new skills and that being on top of the staple life learnings like how to be an authentic woman, a good mate, a good daughter, a good leader, ad infinitum.

I realize now though that the complexity of this learning multiple “somethings” within the same window is precisely what tipped me over to the point surrender. It got to be overwhelming and I waved the white flag and said “Uncle”! And then it came to me: “I am making these processes (learning curves) way more difficult than necessary. I am piling additional difficulty on top of something that has its own inherent difficulty”!

The entire time I am learning something new, my mind is holding court making judgments about my progress and it says things like: “When are you going to get this deal already?”; “How long does it take to get this figured out? You’re smart, what’s the hold up?”; “When are you going to be done with this? We’ve got other things we need you to do. So hurry up!”; “Time is of the essence and you sure are taking a long time. Maybe you’re not cut out for this.”; “You better hurry because time is running out. Your window of opportunity is closing.”

My mind is a dangerous neighborhood sometimes. Obviously it serves a valuable purpose and is necessary and essential to my entire being, so throwing out the baby with the bath water serves no purpose, but how the hell do I get it to stop holding court? Like any tyrannical leader, it gets me convinced that IT is not the problem, IT is the solution, IT is what keeps me moving closer toward the goal and without IT, I am nothing. I think there’s a name for that dysfunction when a captive idolizes their captor, but looking up that term is not the point. The point is my mind has me captive and I keep listening to it!

It has me buying into this belief that everything I learn and eventually know (from experience) will assist me in arriving somewhere new. That isn’t true! First of all, there isn’t anywhere to arrive and to the extent that there is, I’m already here—in the present moment. So this idea of movement is an illusion. It’s really growth I seek. Growth inherently requires change. Change is hard because it doesn’t always feel right. The “not feeling right” part is what makes learning something new difficult.

The process of learning is already difficult enough because it requires us to expand ourselves and change. It’s not about satisfying an insatiable appetite for knowledge just for the sake of knowledge. It’s about being open to the experiences necessary to bring new knowledge into my conscious awareness, so that I can apply it to circumstances and situations in my life. The “knowing” is not the objective—that’s just a clever mechanism for trying to arrive again. The objective is to be in acceptance during the process of learning, whether that be in the microcosm of learning a specific skill or in the macrocosm of learning one of life’s staples.

When I can ignore the bullying of my mind’s court sessions and allow myself the freedom to accept the process of learning; well then, learning is a much more tolerable process. It feels like expansion of me rather than an obstacle for me. Limitations while learning are part of the process. It’s not wise to compete while learning or imagine competitors when there are none.

Time is of the essence, but time is always of the essence because the only time is the “now time”. That doesn’t mean time is running out; it just means I am where I am and I am right on time, whether I think that to be true or not. And that, I believe, is the key to peaceful learning. The trusting that I’m always right where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing; even if I don’t like it, understand why or think I’m late!

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