“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” -Pablo Picasso
These are some thoughts I wrote down a couple months ago and have decided to share. There have been several things on my mind lately that I’d like to learn. You know, new skills, know-how, expertise on subjects I currently know little to nothing about. But that can be kind of intimidating. When you’re brand new to something and first trying to get the hang of it it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged. There’s so much you don’t understand. There’s so much you don’t know. Often you don’t even know enough about that subject to even be aware of all the things you don’t know about it. It’s easy to feel like you’ll never fully grasp things right, that this thing will never come easy to you. It can feel like you’re standing in front of a large, solid, insurmountable wall. But I feel like patience and sustained effort are crucial to learning new things and can get you past those obstacles.
I vividly recall walking into my very first Arabic class several years ago and seeing up on the wall a large chart titled “The Ten Measures of the Tri-Literal Arabic Verb.” This was after my mission, so at the time I was a modestly accomplished speaker of Spanish. Looking at that Arabic verb chart, I immediately attempted to fit what I was seeing into the framework I understood of Spanish verb conjugations. It didn’t work. Trying to do so, combined with my complete ignorance at the time of the Arabic alphabet, left me with a profound sense of confusion and feeling of dread about what I was getting myself into. How was I ever going to master Arabic? Fast forward over four and a half years later and here I am with a perhaps not complete but rather competent mastery of the ideas and concepts conveyed by that beast of a chart. I won’t sugarcoat it: it’s been a long, hard road full of lots of hard work. But at this point those concepts are nearly second nature to me, and I call upon that understanding daily in my current responsibilities. The insurmountable wall has become a broad gateway, opening up a whole world of possibility that was closed to me before. Yes, it’s come after many, many long and tiring days, but my life is so much richer for it. I think much of the best knowledge, wisdom, or expertise is gained along those long, hard roads.
So I’m determined when confronting a new subject that seems to befuddle and discourage me to press forward with determination and discipline. At some point down the road of life I may look back again and find that coming to understand those challenging concepts has blessed my life.
Yeah. It was something like this.