Yesterday was delightful. My Traveling Partner and I spent the day together (how else, in this time of pandemic? lol). We played video games – not generally my “thing”, and I’m not very skilled. My partner was terrifically patient with me, giving me room to play, learn, and grow, while gently offering some useful tips, and coaching with great care to respect my autonomy, and consideration for the time it takes (me) to learn new skills. So much fun! It matters a lot for the quality of such experiences, when he is patient with me.

…Illustrating that point, I took 2 years of keyboard lessons, and never learned to play keyboard, at all, mostly due to my grandfather’s impatience with me just completely sucking the fun out of the entire experience and totally “putting me off” of it, permanently. Same thing when I sought to learn to play guitar, only that time the impatience was my Dad’s, and my instructor’s. It’s been a recurring theme affecting a number of experiences over the course of a lifetime.

…Sometimes my own impatience with my humble efforts, and frustrations with understandable failures during a period of learning, have resulted in dropping some hobby or eagerly sought experience, simply because it was not enjoyable, at all. Why would I put myself through that misery? Hasn’t been worth it. So… my skills and developed competencies are a strange hodge-podge of things that were sufficiently easy to learn that I learned them, or sufficiently engaging to learn that I overcame beginner’s frustrations with pure will. My aquarium(s) fit in that latter category. I love them and delight in them too much to abandon the work needed to “level up”, learn new skills, and take on the real work involved.

I sit here contemplating the new shrimp tank (formerly know as my “thug tank” due to being thrown together to house some aggressive skirt tetras who persisted in hassling my betta, and eating my shrimp). It’s… kind of a mess. lol Oh, not in any horrifying way, but less tidy than it will become over time, while also “too sparse”. I have to wait (patiently) for plants to take root and begin to grown in. I am also waiting for some varieties of plant to simply fail, being less suited to the water conditioned; trial and error on plants and livestock has been a small source of frustration. Everyone who writes or presents content on the topic of aquarium keeping has their own thoughts on the matter, based on their own experience in their own environment, with their own water sources, and their own research. My results vary, whether I follow them, or learn on my own. I do both. My results still vary. lol Patience is necessary.

This tank looks very different now, than it will in a couple weeks. Patience is necessary. Gaming with my Traveling Partner is very different right now, than it likely will become, over time. I am capable of learning. Sometimes it takes me a while, sometimes a ludicrous amount of repetition is needed – sometimes my “learning curve” is dependent on the kind of thing I am trying to learn, and how many “learning styles” it uses (or requires).

I learn best in an environment of positive encouragement and autonomy. I learn fastest when I do the work involved, myself. I learn most durably when there are a lot of opportunities for repetition, fairly consistent in frequency, over time. Few things shut down my learning process faster than impatient frequent criticism. I have only gained this understanding of myself with this much clarity fairly recently – a byproduct of self-reflection on this aquarium-keeping/game-playing path. Fewer distractions. More focus. No real opportunity to wander away in a moment of frustration.  Even learning these things about myself, which promises to improve future learning experiences, requires some patience – and a willingness to be vulnerable, and honest with myself about my specific challenges. Now I celebrate! Right?

…Um… No. There are still verbs involved. The map is not the world. The journey is the destination. We become what we practice. My results will still vary. lol This is a very human experience. I’ve simply added some depth of understanding, and a smidgen of personal awareness, to my approach to learning new skills – if I can hold on to that. Maybe I have already learned this before, and forgotten it, and now I am learning it all over again? That’s a real thing for me. This morning I laugh it off; it doesn’t change the joy I experience from watching the fish and shrimp in my aquariums, or the delight I feel when I score well on a game I am playing with my Traveling Partner, and hear his merry exclamation at how well I have done.

Being patient with myself (and therefore, also, being patient with other people) is so worth it!

…It’s time to begin again. 😀