I was a prolific reader when I was a kid. In elementary school, they used to give you these coupons to get pizza if you read required books. You’d sit at what are now considered archaic computers and answer multiple choice questions to prove you know it. When all is finished, you’d have a button and coupon for a pan pizza. I would have read them without the pizza but, incentive via pan crust? C’mon.
At that age, I started having trouble with getting my letters confused and my hands would get tired when writing. I’d leave words out of sentences. I had a problem with pronouncing things, remember names and dates. It wasn’t anything on the level of needing special help. I was still an AG student and did the best I could but I’d have problems with phonics, and certain things took me away from the A+ life.
I was 14 and sitting on a window sill in the bathroom of an annex building at my school. I was smoking Newports and reading Lord Of The Flies. A girl came into the bathroom and just glared at me. She had on a faded purple top, long brown hair which had never seen the likes of a dye bottle or sheers, and this, “I hate life and everyone in it, but cats are cool.” demeanor. She kept staring at me, so I said, “You want one?” The one in this instance was a cigarette.
She said, “I’m a teacher. You have to go to the office with me now.”
I got off the ground slowly and smirking because she was offended I didn’t note her authority. I said, “Fuck. I mean you do look really young.” She didn’t say anything. When we were walking, I said, “What do you teach?” She said, “Physical Science.”
I wasn’t upset about being in trouble. The school had already told me I couldn’t pass for the year, and it was only October. In our district (or maybe they just said this) you couldn’t miss but so many days of school no matter how well you did on the tests. It didn’t matter to them the reasons why I was absent or the complexities of the real world. I could pass the tests; they just wouldn’t let me take them.
So, I went to school to hang out and see my friends or to use the library. I wasn’t expelled, yet. There was this unspoken agreement at the time that if I didn’t stir things up too much, they would look the other way. This teacher didn’t know that. She was new and young. She marched me up to the office, and I turned around and walked back out.
From an early age, I had to assign my curriculum. The problem with doing everything on your own, reading on your own, learning on your own is you don’t have, well, teachers. A great thing about learning on your own, reading on your own, is you don’t have, well, teachers.
There comes the point in which you have to acknowledge two important thoughts:
1. Think for yourself.
2. Ask for help.
I obviously didn’t have a problem with thinking for myself. Not only do I believe it is important but I find it necessary to live an authentic life. If we don’t question our teachers, our parents, or our leaders we will live blindly.
At the same time, I missed crucial and easier routes to a final or even starting destination because I didn’t have guides. Something as simple as having words said out loud makes the world a much easier place, let alone the path of their knowledge or experience.
I was on a podcast once and was asked to list things I was currently reading; I can’t remember specifically. All I do remember is I started talking about Noam Chomsky, a linguistics expert and brilliant writer who studies our world and at times the words we speak to them.
I said his name wrong. I said his name wrong. A brilliant celebrated expert in the field of linguistics. Oh, the irony.
I don’t remember exactly how I pronounced it. Maybe it was one of those times I decided to add extra syllables because I have a tendency to do that. The truth is, I said his name wrong because while I knew how to say it technically, I had only heard it a said out loud once or twice and it wasn’t “stuck” or formed in my head. It takes a while for me to get proper names in my head. Geography is so phonically fun.
None the less, there it is, on a recording I can’t edit for (thankfully) little of the world to hear because it’s a smallest of internet moments.
There would be and will be many other moments I fumble. My life wasn’t just on a learning curve but traveling that curve almost entirely alone. I worked for myself, learned for myself, myself, myself. Me. Me. Me.
We need checks and balances in life, internal affairs, and evaluators. We can’t do it all by ourselves nor is it wise to try. At the rate my brain can process and take in information, I could be far more advanced in many skills. I could play music better, train better, read better, learn better, grow better, love better, better, better, better.
One of life’s goals should be to find the most efficient route to a goal we can obtain. After all, time isn’t in abundance. Yet for some reason, we constantly travel the most difficult routes. We only go to the doctor when we are sick. We will spend thousands on trinkets while grumbling over education. We get angry when a path to a dream has a price but isn’t that a price worth paying for?
How often do we wish that our dreams can be bought or materialize? Sure, most dreams are an abstract or faith fulfillment intertwining with the distant webs of our reality. But some dreams, some of them, are touchable. There are some dreams we can touch and feel the vibrations of their closeness pulsating through our skin. Why would you not pay to get closer? Why would you not hire the mentor, buy the course, travel the pavement, or risk the journey if possibility rests on the other side?
What is payment? Is it always money or does it come in fear of pride resting on your tongue asking for a favor and fearing rejection? No amount of life’s dreams, education, or goals should slip away because you’ve convinced yourself you didn’t deserve the teaching. It’s never too late to learn but often that’s not the problem, the problem is too many people convince themselves they are too old or proud to be a student.
Don’t be a miser to your dreams. Be a student – it will teach you something.
Read the books, hire the mentor, take the trips, take the leap and ask for help from people who are closer to where you want to be. Think for yourself yes, but learn from history and embrace the art of being the forever student even if that means asking for someone’s hand.