Knowing Nothing

“When the mind is nowhere it is everywhere. When it occupies one tenth, it is absent in the other nine tenths.” ~ Takuan

In my last post I wrote a little about how the teachings and attitudes of parents and teachers can either stimulate or stifle the abilities of children. Amazing things can happen when a child, or anyone for that matter, doesn’t know that they shouldn’t be able to do something. Think back to when you were a kid. You were out on the playground. You climbed the jungle gym. You hung upside down, walked on top of the bars, and slid down the ladder like a fireman down the pole. You loved the wind in your hair and the little bit of danger that you were exposed to. Then one day someone, maybe your loving Mother, yelled at you and told you to “get down and be more careful.” In that one moment two things happened, you lost a little bit of the wonder and you lost a little bit of your decision making mechanism that you would need in later life.

“To be surprised is to begin to understand.” ~ José Ortega Y Gasset

Children make mistakes. They get bumps and bruises and broken bones. They get cols and the flu. That is how they develop the skills and the immunity that they will need in their adult life. With that being said, I like to think that I am still developing and that’s why I’m making so many mistakes.

“Knowledge is knowing as little as possible.” ~ Charles Bukowski

I think back to when I started writing my first novel. It was so easy. Nobody told me I couldn’t write a novel. Nobody taught me how to put together a sentence, or build a character, or where to start and when to stop. I didn’t know about outlines or plotting or grammar or any of that other sh*t that we writers “need to know.” I just sat down at the keyboard, wrote one hundred thousand loosely connected words, and voila, a novel. It sucked. But it was easy. As I learned the tools of the trade, the sheer joy of the writing dissipated and the drudge emerged. As I embark on my fourth novel it is anything but easy.

That’s what it’s like for a kid. They pick up a golf club and figure out how to make the ball go far. It might not go straight, but man, does it go far. Or they beat on a drum for long enough and rhythms start to emerge. It is only when a grownup tells them that they are doing it wrong that their joy starts to disappear.

The same can be said for parents who force their kids into a sport or activity or profession that is the parents’ dream and not the kids. Every person has their own talents, their own “thing.” Just because dad is a good golfer doesn’t mean that the kid will be. Not every kid can grow up to be Tiger Woods. And if your kid loves golf but has no talent, encourage rather than discouraging her. She will grow out of it or she won’t. The world is filled with bad golfers that never grew out of it. That’s okay, as long as they can still derive some joy from it.

“Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it.” ~ James Baldwin

I have some good friends who have a baby daughter. One of their conscious parenting decisions is to let their daughter roam free with three protective dogs. She spends her days playing with the dogs and interacting with them. Sometimes she gets too rough and they nip at her. But they protect her and teach her skills that will be invaluable when she gets to the school playground. She might get some bumps and bruises and scratches along the way, but she’ll be a better and stronger kid for it.

I’m the last one to tell you how to raise your kids. This is one activity that I can honestly say I Know Nothing about. I’m just saying that love, encouragement, and trust will go a lot farther than stifling, discouraging, and forcing your own dreams on your kid. A happy kid is a well balanced kid. Your son might try one hundred different things before he finds what he like. Your patience will help him get there.

Until next time,
Brother T

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