Learning is an overwhelming experience.
It throws any or all of our senses into a blender, switches the blades onto high gear, and then repeatedly presses the pulse button for good measure. The resulting concoction is different, often bearing little or no resemblance to the initial ingredients. It’s our perception as it transforms with every experience we have, even if all it gains us is a newfound awareness.
Inherently, to learn is to change. To change is to see, understand, feel, say or do something in a new way. Whether the difference is drastic or hardly noticeable, it is change nonetheless.
But learning and changing have even more in common—they create the consistency of our lives, the essence of our time and how we spend it.
So, if learning is overwhelming, changing is terrifying and learning is changing—and both are essential to life—then where does that leave us?
More often than not, it leaves us in a fearful state of unpredictability. We continue to observe the world around us, becoming more and more sensitive to the unknown. Sometimes we get curious and probe for more, and sometimes we turn away. Regardless of the path we choose, we keep learning; there is always something waiting to reveal itself, no matter the route we take.
The more we expose ourselves to what was once unknown, the more aware we become. And with awareness comes choice—arguably as frightening as change, because choice and change usually go hand in hand, one way or another.
So we learn something, we change in some way and we have choices to make. Whatever we choose, we often learn other things in the process of making more changes and more choices, and the cycle continues.
It almost seems like some sort of mind game, one with so many possible goals that it appears there are none. Learning, changing and choosing are the means of transportation, taking us—the players—from one level to the next, but nothing is particularly clear. All we know is where we’ve been and where we are now. Maybe we know what it means, but maybe we don’t. Not yet, anyway.
As a curious participant, I’ve been learning—more than usual, lately. I’ve changed in more ways than I can (or care to) explain (right now). I have some choices to make, and they’re not easy ones. They never are.
I’ve been searching for something—anything—a sign, some guidelines, a flutter in my heart or a voice in my bones. Desperately longing for an answered prayer, I’m watching and waiting, making sure that if something should drop from the sky, I’ll be ready to catch it.
I keep looking for a flashing billboard to scream at me with some sort of directive, to tell me how to play this game. But in my search, I learned something more:
This is life, a game that has no rules.
Anything can happen. And it will happen. I will learn, I will change, I will choose; I will do these things to some degree every day, and whatever happens from there will happen somehow. Then, I will learn, change and choose again.
There will be choices I don’t want to make, but I will make them anyway.
A few will be good and many will be absurdly wrong. I will have my moments of fleeting intelligence and my trudges of remarkable stupor, and all the while I won’t have the slightest idea of what lies ahead.
But that’s ok, because I don’t have to know anything about the future except that I’ll get there eventually.
Somehow, I will carve my own path and live my own heart’s song. I will walk a different edge and hum a different melody than anyone else, because each of us plays this game in our own way; we have that luscious (and often petrifying) freedom as unique beings.
There are no guidelines, no flashing lights, no rules to follow—not in this game.
And if there are no rules, I can’t break them. I can’t be wrong. I can only keep going, continually playing with everything I have yet to know.
But will it stop me? Absolutely not.
No matter how fiercely we tremble before all there is to learn, change and choose, perhaps we can ease our fears with a deep breath, a brave heart, a clear mind and an understanding that we can’t be wrong.
Because this is life—the game that has no rules.
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Assistant Editor: Laura Ashworth/Editor: Bryonie Wise
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