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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

Black holes in time

BlackHoleToo often we think about what we did yesterday and we just can’t remember. Or last week. Or last month. Or last year.

I might remember I was at work yesterday, but whatever I did there is largely lost into the depths of completed and finished projects.

I love finding some item  or note from long ago that brings back a thought that would have been lost to me otherwise. I love going through old pictures or the trunk of useless objects and certificate I’ve acquired over the years. I’ve kept small toys, poems and stories I wrote, drawings, awards, and so many miscellaneous items that I am always discovering something forgotten.

Recently, I came across a journal that I kept for a writing class when I was about ten. I think that class may have inspired me more than perhaps any other writing class that I’ve taken. And that inspiration has stuck and grown over time. Reading through it made me think of so many different things: the ways I’ve changed and matured in a decade, the similarities… the arrogance of youth.

You think you know everything when you are ten.

I remember loving the teacher, Mrs. Curtis. She was patient and gave us broad categories, and knew how to give us a task but leave room for plenty of creativity. We were supposed to write about what we did each day, describing actual events and things we observed. My observations were full of childishly sincere thoughts. My journal is covered in her notes, encouraging me and chiding me for not doing something right.

More than once I wrote a poem instead of an entry. She would call me a little poet and scold me for not writing an actual journal entry. She taught me to read and write poems, and I loved finding words that rhymed and forming phrases. I loved using the words to make amusing and nonsensical verses and limerick.

That love of words has matured too, and translated into a love of pleasing prose more than those little rhyming ditties.

No more than some paper in a folder, that journal is a record of so many lost thoughts. When you think about there are only some events that we remember, with those filed away until something recalls them to mind, like a key that unlocks a cabinet. Like my little journal. That note, picture, smell, or place can bring back memories that have been long lost in time.

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Question?Try to match the definition with the correct word. You can leave a comment and explain why you choose that answer. I’ll post the actual answer from my calendar later, so you don’t have to suffer over the question forever. Or go through the work of looking it up yourself.

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harborI haven’t spoken a word all day.

Some people are physically mute. Some people take a voluntary vow of silence. For me, it’s a necessity. If I continue speaking, I may not be able to speak at all later.

A few times every year, I have to go on vocal rest. I retreat into myself, and don’t speak for hours or a day at a time.

Whenever this happens, it makes me think even more. It makes me wonder. It makes me write.

I’ve been like this since I was thirteen. I used to panic, my worst fear being that one day I would wake up and never be able to speak again.

Essentially, I have “delicate” vocal chords. What might make most people hoarse for a day, will make me hoarse for a month or longer. Talking, singing, medications, illness, asthma, acid reflux, environmental influences, and other things strain my voice to the point that it becomes difficult or painful to speak.

You might know a similar feeling if you’ve ever had laryngitis.

I can’t change it, and it will never really go away. I’ve accepted it, and learned that it is a burden I can manage. It takes a great deal of discipline, control, and caution to prevent strain or heal my vocal chords. When I’m not extremely careful, it gets worse.

I’m not speaking today because my voice became hoarse after I sang in a choir a month ago, and has been slowly getting worse again.

I’m at my family’s house now. It’s much easier, because my quirky family is accustomed to the peculiar situation and supportive. My parents put up with it, and my two brothers laugh at my expressions and silent jokes. My sister and most of my good friends have learned how to interpret and understand my gestures, and make the best of an interesting situation.

It is not always fun. You feel alone. Unable communicate with everyone as normal, it can quickly make you feel isolated and desperate. But it will make you stronger in the end.

You’d be amazed at the things you learn by keeping your mouth shut. You should try it. You become a better observer, listener, and non-verbal communicator. It can bring a sense of inner peace, allowing you to hear your own inner voice and even God better. It teaches you what needs to be said, what doesn’t, and how to pick your battles. It makes you value every word from your mouth, and from others. You learn to appreciate sound, and enjoy the silence.

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cowswhitesAs a young child, asking questions was one of my specialties. I liked to know how things worked and thought there were plenty of interesting, and also delicious, things to think about at the grocery store.

There were two things that were of particular interest: eggs and milk. Specifically arousing my curiosity was my observation that these two cowsbrownitems came in two colors, white and brown. I knew from everything I had been told that chickens made eggs and cows made milk. The discrepancy in color led me to conclude that the different hues also came from different color animals. White eggs must come from white chickens. Brown eggs must come from brown chickens. White milk must come from white cows. White ChickensBrown milk must come from brown cows.

I didn’t know where spotted cows and chickens came in to my equation.

Later in my questioning career I found evidence that this was not the case, and my hypothesis was false. I learned that the color of the product was not Brown Chickensdictated by the color of the animal. I also found that while certain chickens just popped out brown eggs, people had tampered with the milk, adding chocolate to make it brown.

Although I was ultimately proven wrong, I had successfully been using the scientific method without even realizing it. All I did was observe, try to explain, and test my guesses –but that is the very heart of science.

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I’m not a writer

I have always resisted calling myself a writer. In the most basic sense, you could argue that a child with the ability to write his own name is a writer. I may be a writer by this standard, for I can certainly write my own name, but this is a bit too broad for my taste.

If one were particularly pretentious, he could insist that only those who write well are writers; by writing well, he would of course, imply those who write well by his own standards. There is this fuzzy line from those who cannot write, those who can write, and those who are writers. I can write, but that does not make me a writer. When I think of a writer I think of someone whose principal occupation is writing. By this criterion, I am not yet a writer, although I should hope that I could consider myself one someday. Dreams are not reality, but they can become it. For now, I am merely a student of writing.

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fishyI don’t know where it came from, or why it happened, but I’ve developed a strange affinity for my fish. I rescued my little red Beta from Waly-Mart last June (June 21, 2008 to be specific). He’s a fighting fish, and very vicious actually. That is him in the picture, and the size is about accurate.

He didn’t eat for the first week I had him. I would drop the little brown pellets into the water and he would completely ignore them. He had no interest in eating at all. I was terrified that I would look into his bowl and he would be floating, dead. I just wanted to take care of him, I didn’t want him to die! He was the first fish that I can ever remember owning and he HATED ME! Or was simply in the most complete state of indifference that a fish can experience.

I imagine that being underwater, he can’t hear very well (or at least takes it as an excuse to ignore me). So to let him know that I had dropped in his food, I would blow gently on the surface of the water. He would notice the ripples and speed to the surface to see what was going on. At that point he would see the food and chase after it. He used to spit it out a couple times before he would actually eat it. He has better manners now.

He’s the smartest fish I’ve every known. Not that I’ve known many fish or can ever remember owning any. Although I’m sure there was a goldfish that died when I was five or something like that. But this little fishy can recognize and remember patterns, and I’ve found that I can teach him stuff. I have taught him to eat off my finger and bite people so far. I think that I’ll teach him to jump next.

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