As a child growing up, I used to eavesdrop on my parents conversations. I would walk into the living room, discover that they were in the middle of a discussion, and would quietly and surreptitiously take my seat among them: somewhere where I wouldn’t be noticed.
It was on one such occasion, while my grandfather was visiting, that I had a paradigm shift. I can’t remember what they were talking about, all I remember is that it caused my grandfather to call our TV, “The Idiot Box.”
Oh the audacity! What did he mean by that! Our TV!? Purveyor of the finest information and entertainment worldwide!? The TV on which I’d watched hours of Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network, and NTA for kids!? I couldn’t believe my ears.
Oh the audacity! What did he mean by that!
Yet nobody got up in arms over the statement. In fact, neither of my parents bat an eyelid at the phrase. So I began to think: my grandfather had said it matter-of-factly, my parents had accepted it matter-of-factly, therefore, it must be, a matter of fact!
Of course, that logic was quite naive. But it made me reflect on the (un)importance of TV in my life – and in later years, it has caused me to always be on the lookout for the things that are important. Of these, I believe that there are none more important than practice and experience.
You see, life is about education – and that education comes in 2 forms: Practice, and Experience. Practice is the type of education that the world values. It is through practice that we learn how to walk, talk, and even think. We pay schools to teach us how, and what to practice. With it, we acquire new skills, and it is with those skills we earn money.
There can be no doubt, that it is practice (and not money), that makes the world go round.
On the other hand experience, is the type of education we get for free. It comes through our interactions with others, but unlike practice, we have no control over how we learn, only what we learn. Experience in this sense, is not valued by the world. But it is valued on a human level.
Yet what is most significant about them both, is not what they are, but how they affect us.
Now with plenty of practice, practices become habits – and those habits over time, can effect change in our bodies and minds. As is the case with smoking, drinking, studying, and working. Practices, affect the body.
Whereas experiences, whether repeated or singular, brief or prolonged, can fundamentally alter the very core of our being. Like my experience with my grandfather, one simple event, can change ones entire perspective on life. Experiences, affect the soul.
This is why I believe that experiences are God-given. Be they complex or simple, traumatic or mundane, every experience is a life lesson intended to change you for the better; a life lesson meant for your soul.
But I think life often confuses us because practices can result in experiences, and experiences can result in practices. So sometimes lessons meant for the mind are taken to heart, and lessons meant for the heart, are taken to mind. So instead of us changing our outlook, we change our behaviour… or vice-versa.
Ah… but here I go pontificating as usual. People have always told me that I walk and talk like an old man; and I must admit, I do literally walk as slow, and pontificate as endlessly as one.
Still, if there is one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that everything in life is a learning exercise. Take care to learn the right lessons at the right times, and may God’s grace see you through. 😀