Sunday, July 8, 2012

Becoming a Student of the Sport

I have been tossing ideas for this post around in my head for upwards of two months, so I really need to write it. I'm using my thinker for the first time in a few weeks, so we'll see how this goes.

Let's start out with a little Sharing Time magic. I was sitting with my CTR 7 class in Sharing Time a few weeks back, having a grand old time singing "Nephi's Courage" and other classics. Then the lesson started, and Sister Peeler started displaying items of clothing and asking what they might be used for. After we had determined that coats are good for playing in the snow and church shoes are good for Primary, etc., we talked about how silly it would be to wear a bathing suit to school or a coat in the middle of summer. Partway through this discussion, a tiny little Sunbeam jumped out of his chair and yelled, "I'M LEARNING!" with such joy and enthusiasm that I had to excuse myself from the room to laugh. It was so effing cute. Now keep this in mind through the next story.

Every year, my dad and I like to take a backpacking trip with Wade and sometimes Paul. My favorite part of the whole trip is the talks I get to have in the car with my pops. I love talking to my dad--he always has so many interesting stories and thoughts and experiences. On our trip last year, we got talking about a book he was working on at the time. It's a book about the history and traditions of hunting and fishing in North America (and here it is, in case you're curious). In the course of this discussion, he mentioned an interview they had included in the book. The man he quoted, Eddie Robinson, said, "...the biggest thing somebody has to learn is that they don't know what they're doing. As soon as you think like that, you're done; you'll never improve. But if you can hand the guy the perspective and the understanding that he doesn't know what he's doing, regardless of how long he's been doing it, that's probably, I think, the most difficult thing to learn, and that's what you can't teach people. People either automatically have that or they don't. They're either students of the sport or they're already knowing it all. You can teach anybody to fish. I can teach anybody to fish, but what you can't give them is a perspective."

That little excerpt, particularly the phrase, "student of the sport," has been haunting me for upwards of a year. The idea that you're never, ever going to be good enough at something that there won't be anything left to learn about it is rather intimidating and entirely thrilling. When you break it down to its base components, it's humility. Realizing deep inside yourself that you honestly do not know everything and are not always right is a hefty thing to be level with, and it requires TONS of humility. The equivalent of a buttload. It takes a buttload of a humility to admit that you're wrong and to legitimately come to terms with the fact that you simply do not know everything. Or even most of everything. Not even close. Being a teenager, particularly, makes this difficult. We know that kids are too little to know anything, our elders can't understand our generation, our friends just don't get it, or any number of other misunderstood, angsty excuses. Heaven forbid we should swallow our pride, admit we don't always know best, and have the grace to accept advice and knowledge from anybody but ourselves.

I think humility is really a key component of joy. People that go around with holier-than-thou, noses in the air attitudes are just straight up obnoxious. You want to whack them around the head and make them understand that they're not always right about everything. But honestly, most everybody is like that in some way or another. People that are honestly, truly, cheerfully trying to learn from their mistakes and aren't too proud to admit that they do, in fact, make mistakes, are not obnoxious and for some reason tend to be happier.

If everybody had the same zeal for learning as that precious little Sunbeam, if every person was constantly a student of the sport, how much happier would we all be? If we all jumped out of our chairs, tickled to our toes that we were filling our brains with knowledge, how wonderful would that be? Happiness is being a student of the sport--realizing and, beyond that, hoping that we will find new things to explore and learn and discover about everything we know.

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow." -Anthony D'Angelo

Love always,



Miriam said...

Humility really is a key component of learning. Folks are supposed to be meek and humble, and those two words typically appear together. Meek means teachable. You won't learn unless you understand that learning is something you lack. These are wonderful thoughts, Kate. Thank you for sharing them.

Kristen Odette said...

One of my favorites quotes is, "joy is not the absence of pain but the presence of God" (unknown). I think that humility asks us to remove selfishness and pride from our hearts and submit them to the Savior to be replaced with His love and a thirst to learn more about Him. Since everything good and beautiful in the world is a testament of Him, there's a lot to learn! And as we open our hearts to His miraculous plan, there is less and less room for the pride of the world, more and more room for Him. And isn't that joyful. Ah, Kate. You have done it again. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts, you wonderful girl!

Marianne said...

You are an amazing girl. You think thoughts that are deeper than anything I will ever be able to comprehend. One of my favorite things about you...