Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quote discipline day 15

So. The time has come for me to get my kite flying, stretch out in the sun, kick off my shoes, and speak my piece. 'The days of struggle are over,' I should be able to say. 'I can look back now and tell myself I don't have a single regret.' But I do. Many years ago a very wise man named Bernard Baruch took me aside and put his arm around my shoulder. 'Harpo, my boy,' he said, 'I'm going to give you three pieces of advice, three things you should always remember.' My heart jumped and I glowed with expectation. I was going to hear the magic password to a rich, full life from the master himself. 'Yes, sir' I said. And he told me the three things. I regret that I've forgotten what they were. (Arthur Marx)

How is it that we so easily forget the meaningful things that we learn? How is it that some great, deep bit of life wisdom that I learned today sticks with me for all of one day, then tomorrow I need to learn it all over again?

Why do I have to keep passing through difficult situations in order to grow my faith? Can't the faith just stay bloated?

I'm afraid the Bernard Baruchs of my life have told me great things not once, not twice, but many times over. Sometimes I remember. Sometimes I kind of remember but don't really do anything about it. But all too often, I do as the author did. I gear up, with enormous anticipation, listen carefully, then forget what I learned.

Oh! And so often, I listen carefully to the first few words, then my mind wanders and I forget to keep listening until he's almost done, at which point I realise I didn't get his much-anticipated, highly-valued point! Don't you do that? I hope I'm not the only one.

This year has been a season of lesson-learning for me. God doesn't generally stop me and say something to me like the sage in the quote. Not usually. Usually he provides me with holistic kinetic learning, a full-bodied experience which involves all my senses. The kind of thing a student will remember.

Yet he hasn't taught me these things once, nor twice, nor three times. Every few weeks, if not more frequently, he's teaching me the same thing again, and I can only surmise that it's because I have got to hear it again. And here's how I see it: as long as he's patient enough to keep teaching, I should keep learning. Probably if he's teaching it again, it's because I didn't get it the first time anyway.

So I don't regret not remembering the lessons. Because they'll keep coming around, in a new conversation, a fresh lecture, or a unique experience, until I'm done learning.

Oh, and, I probably won't finish learning until the day I die. Clearly life is about the journey not the destination.

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