Archives for posts with tag: repetition is learning

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. 😀

I’m counting down hours until my Traveling Partner is home again. I’m counting down days until my camping trip. Right now, this moment here? I’m counting down minutes until this coffee is cool enough to drink! lol

…Here’s the thing about all that, though; none of it is “now”. This now. Right now. This present-tense moment, right here? It isn’t about a future moment that may (or may not) happen at all. I know, that hints at a certain grimness, but the future is the future, and we don’t know with any certainty what that future will be. It’s the flip side of “this too shall pass”… So, um, “that stuff, also, hasn’t happened yet, at all”. lol

I pull myself back to the present moment. If nothing else, it is a wholesome exercise in waking up to the new day, shedding whatever baggage crossed over into my waking consciousness from my dreams, letting go of the “what ifs” and untested assumptions on which I could, if I prefer drama and disappointment, build my day upon. Starting fresh with what I observe, here, now, and how I feel in this moment, physically. My coffee is still too hot to drink. The street beyond the driveway is still quiet. The sky is dark, reminding me that the season is slowly changing, and that soon summer will become autumn. I feel relaxed, and comfortable in my skin, and the casual clothes I put on for the day. The pain I woke with seems familiar, and manageable. Although my coffee is too hot to drink, the mug feels warm in hands, a luxurious counterpoint to the morning chill in the room, artificially imposed by the air conditioning. (That reminds me to adjust the temperature to a “day time and I’m not at home” temperature, from the “night time and I sleep best in a cool room” temperature.)

….Ah! That first sip of coffee… so good. Well, I mean, realistically – as good as coffee can be, and only if you’re into coffee (I get it, I really do; it’s not everyone’s thing). lol How does this coffee really taste? Smooth… (not a flavor!), mildly astringent (also more of a feeling), something like… roasted bark… or… damp cardboard… or… I’m not sure. It tastes, to me, like “coffee”. It’s black. Hot. Feels good in my mouth. Comforts and refreshes. LOL I guess I’m a bit vague on what it actually tastes like. I let all of that go, and simply enjoy the experience.

I attempt to apply the same principles of non-attachment, awareness, and presence, to the experiences of waiting for my partner’s homecoming, and even to looking forward to my camping trip. This moment is best lived… well… live. 😀

…I complete that thought, and immediately find myself contemplating the weekend that is just behind me, already drifting out of this present moment, into some other moment that is also not “now”. lol Fucking monkey-mind, always at it. I let that go, too. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let those past moments recede into the background, again, and pull myself back to “now”. Whups – there’s that tricksy daydreaming and anticipation of future moments, back at me again. Damn it. Another breath. Another exhalation. Relaxing and letting all that go – again. I see-saw between contemplating some past moment, and looking ahead to some moment that is not yet now; all very normal and human. I keep pulling myself back to “now”. It’s just something that requires practice, and there is no stress or perturbation in it for me, not these days. Progress comes in due course; incremental change over time, well, it takes time. I know I’ll likely practice for a lifetime, regardless – this is one of those instances in which the journey itself very much is the destination.

My coffee, now, is precisely the correct temperature for comfortably drinking it, while also having the subjective experience of “hot” coffee. It’s very relative; my idea of “hot coffee”, and yours, likely vary by some degrees. I have a friend who drinks it near to scalding hot – I don’t even make coffee with boiling water. I have other friends who just don’t ever drink coffee hot – iced coffee 24/7/365. We’re each having our own experience. 🙂 (Hey – cool metaphor! lol)

I check the time. Monday already, and an entire new week ahead of me. Doesn’t matter. The entirety of the lifetime behind me doesn’t “matter” much more, in one particular regard; it isn’t “now”. The moment I’ve got to work with, at any given time, is just this “now” moment, right here. I’m not encouraging any sort of FOMO or YOLO foolishness, or painful clinging to things-that-are-not-now, either. I’m just saying, and I’m not the first to suggest it; be here, now. It’s an ideal starting point on all manner of journeys, physical, metaphysical, and beyond. Actually… it’s damned difficult to start anywhere/when else – and attempting to do so is a sure fire impediment to making any real progress.

I smile, and sigh contentedly. The sky is lighter now, a shade of pale blue-gray, with a hint of violet at the edge of darkness, and a hint of peaches and pinks yet-to-come at the edge of the sunrise. I finish off my coffee. This opportunity to begin again isn’t going to handle itself; there are verbs involved! I breathe. Exhale. Relax – and finish my coffee. It’s definitely time to begin again.  🙂

 

It’s hard to call it “waking up early”, when on a different day of week, under other circumstances, I’d just be… still awake. lol I woke around 1:30 am. I’m not sure what woke me, and initially I had every intention of simply going back to sleep. That just didn’t work out. I’m awake. Wholly and completely awake, and quite alert, and ready to begin the day… only… it’s not time for that.

I finally gave up on trying to sleep; it’s not an endeavor that lends itself well to vigorous attempts, and it had become clear that I wasn’t going to be sleeping again any time soon. I’m too familiar with the enduring grogginess that comes of finally falling back to sleep, less than an hour from the alarm going off, and then having to more or less drag myself through my day. Wasted effort. Never able to fully wake and enjoy my day with any sense of purpose. Trapped in a dream-like state. I just have too many other things to do with my time, heading into the weekend, and getting things ready for my Traveling Partner to return home. So – awake it is. I showered, meditated, did some yoga, and made coffee.

…So far it is a lovely morning. 😀

There is some sort of cosmic, comic, betrayal in my experience of sipping on this excellent cup of coffee; I am immediately sleepier than I’ve been since I woke up! I laugh it off; the clock keeps ticking, and I’ve committed myself, at this point, to starting the day a bit ahead of schedule.

As if mocking me, this also ends up being a morning on which I have little to say, as I sit here. I’m sort of just… here. That’s okay, too. There’s no requirement (or real potential) that every moment of living life be somehow spectacular and richly fulfilling. Some moments are just moments – quite enough as they are, and nothing noteworthy or fancy. It’s that sort of morning, only with extra minutes. 😀

I put on my headphones, and hit play on my favorite playlist. It’s tempting to read the news…but… I don’t need to fill my head with outrage machinery and Other People’s Drama, certainly not this early on a quiet morning. Music seems a better fit to this moment. 🙂 I smile into the day ahead, and let the moments tick by, contentedly. This morning, it’s very much enough. 🙂

Perspective is sometimes about the view from a singular moment. If I stand somewhere else, doesn’t my perspective change? 🙂

It took time, and still requires regular practice, and I can’t stress enough how valuable it has been to learn to shift my perspective. Getting hung up on one element of one moment of one experience can really wreck a day (or days, or weeks, or a lifetime…), and there is so much more to consider, to appreciate, and to incorporate into totality of this human life. I’m definitely a fan of a change in perspective in stressful times. Sounds easy – isn’t always. It’s easier with practice, though; we become what we practice. 😀

How though? I mean, in practical terms, how do I “change my perspective” on some hard moment, or other? Well… sometimes I play “The Multi-Verse Game”. 🙂

Every window potentially a different human life in progress, a different point of view…

To play The Multi-Verse Game, I consider my challenge from the basic assumption that there is variety in human experience. Given a large number of human beings, each potentially sharing some slightly different version of a similar, potentially very common, experience, how could the subtle variations play out? What different results would play out, based on differing choices, and subtle differences in experience? I imagine many different sorts of human beings, having this experience that is challenging me so very much, and I allow the scenes to play out, one by one. This person, that choice, these details – how does the story end? That person, other choices, different details – and now how does it go? I extend this into various versions of my own experience; if some one choice or detail were different, in my own life, how would my experience change, then? If nothing else, it becomes entertaining narrative craft, a little internal theater – and often, it allows me to more easily let go of bullshit assumptions I’ve made, and failed to notice are needlessly driving my stress. Sometimes the game serves to alert me of alternatives, and choices, that could work out well for me, that I had not previously understood with clarity, but are revealed in the story-telling.

Another great practice in dark times is making a point to test my assumptions; so much of my anxiety turns out to be caused by my assumptions, rather than by any solid truths or realities of my circumstances. 🙂

…I think of a friend. One of those old friends that is somehow “always there”, even if we’re out of touch for years. Still… sort of a dick move to not make at least some effort; people matter more than that. I pause to send him an email. Just a greeting, really, and a reminder that we exist on a shared journey, separated only by distance. 🙂 Dropping off of the social media landscape has been a little odd in this regard; I’d grown very dependent on it to maintain friendships and associations across vast chasms of geographical distance, and even across time. Now? I’ve got to actually work at those – and occasionally find myself “trapped in the now”, far away, and less than inclined to do so in any practical way. I contemplate my great-grandmother’s letter writing, which I can recall from the edge of adolescence. She was still living, and it was the focal point of her life. She wrote letters to friends. They wrote letters to her. It’s a habit worth cultivating. The world changes – will social media (and the internet, or even electricity) always be available? I sometimes wonder…

The music plays on.

Yeah… that’s the stuff I listen to “in real life”. lol  What about you? Aren’t there details about who you are, the you that you, yourself, know so well, that all those “non you” people seem regularly surprised by? 😉 I grin to myself, content to be who I am, in the wee hours, half-aware of the time as it passes, song by song, minute by minute. I notice that my coffee, cold now, is almost gone. It’s well past 3:00 am, already. Feels like a new day, and not the “middle of the night”, now. I guess it’s time to begin again… 😀

This morning over coffee I watched a clip from a Joe Rogan interview on the topic of “How to Workout” and found myself contemplating the concepts of consistency, intensity, and flow. A worthy start to my day. I pause long enough to send the link to my work email, to share with my team; the concepts easily apply to cognition, and workload management, too. A healthy consistence pace does reliably result, for me, in an enjoyable experience, with better long-term results. 🙂 Applying that everywhere I successfully can totally makes sense – why haven’t I considered this sooner, and more often??

…Why are we so eager to seek fatigue?? Where did we get the idea that working that hard is necessary or even good?

The weekend was filled with flowers, and love. Making a point to enjoy them matters.

I got in a good walk yesterday. (It’s not really a hike, is it, if I am on a comfortably paved suburban trail, no pack, wearing sandals, and just strolling along?) I hit a personal milestone, getting my distance back up nicely, and getting back home without feeling completely wrung out; I felt great! There were so many flowers along the way. It was lovely.

Pause for flowers. (It’s a metaphor.)

The hole in my jaw seems to be healing… I try not to overthink it. Reliably good self-care seems the way to go.

“Consistency”. Something new to contemplate further. It makes so much sense; it is precisely why practicing some simple healthy supportive practices results in incremental change over time. Why I haven’t applied this concept to way more things in life is less important than recognizing this is the case, and making some changes. 🙂 No point wasting time on “troubleshooting” this one; I have choices, choices that result in change, changes that can result in improved quality of life – with potentially reduced intensity of effort day-to-day. 😀 Easy.

…It’s definitely time to begin again!

Just a reminder; regardless whether it “looks easy”, it probably took work. Just saying, it’s rare that things are truly “easy” or without effort, however effortless some other human primate is making it look. 😉 Don’t let the appearance of someone else’s mastery dissuade you from making your own choices, following your own path, or embracing the very real likelihood that learning something new and becoming great at it will require considerable work. 🙂

We’re all working at something.

I have no idea why we’ve ended up with the notion that things need to look easy. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it?

That thing you want to do or learn? It’s worth the work involved. 🙂 Go ahead, go for it – begin! 🙂

…Be prepared to begin, again, a fair few times along the way. 😉