J.K. Riki

Professor Experience

Once upon a time I had plans to change the world.

Broad, sweeping plans. Plans to end poverty, starvation, and terrible pop-music lyrics. Things were going to be different. Better. All thanks to the ideas in my head.

The funny thing about living is that you change so much through experience. We go to school, and read books, and attend seminars, and watch the news (for as much as you can learn there these days). Yet the best teacher is, and always has been, experience.

You learn as you go. As you fail, suffer, succeed, and fail again. Sometimes you worry to the point of making yourself sick, only to see how beautiful things turn out after and wonder why you were ever worried. Experience teaches you, and changes your goals for the better, if you let it.

Every experience brings you closer to finally “getting it.” Finally understanding what the gray-haired 95-year-olds in your family or at your church or that you visit at the retirement center would love to tell you about life, but you wouldn’t listen if they did.

It’s funny, knowing that, that we do so much to avoid certain experiences. Our society revolves around the experience of happiness. Nothing wrong with being happy, but an issue does arise when it becomes the only goal of life. Today if you aren’t happy, something is wrong. Something needs fixed. You need medication, or therapy, or a new car. It’s not just that you are in a moment of life where sadness has arrived to teach you something.

There is, of course, a problem at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. If you are only ever sad, that’s the opposite extreme. Then there’s a good indication that something does need worked on.

From someone who has spent a lot of time in the extremes, I can tell you sincerely that they- extremes- are a lousy place to exist. The middle balance is the sweet spot. Some days of happiness, but not running from the sad when it comes. Inviting anger in for a cup of tea, just the two of you, to see why you’re feeling that way, and then letting it be on its way a moment later. Hanging out with anxiety to soak up the lessons it brings before bidding it a cheerful goodbye and sending it off.

Experience is an amazing teacher. Every experience builds a collection inside you that can be called upon when a new experience arrives at your door. What if we took notice of the lessons being taught, and used them to propel our growth to even higher heights? Imagine how high we could go.

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