The Ride 1.0

March 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

[Written a few years ago during a Writer's Stylus class, but somehow more relevant today than before.] 

I’m committed now, no turning back. I double check; the bar is locked in place. I'm secure and the probability of safe return is quite high.

But between now and safe return is a very steep climb, a lot of loops, and who knows what else; half the journey is hidden. My stomach is in knots—will I handle this with dignity, or will I scream like a child wrought with insecurity? Will the painstaking first ascent cause me great apprehension and serious misgivings, or will I absorb the view with entirely different eyes, stimulated by anticipated exhilaration?

The wind swallows all caution, no time to worry. We're off! This is new, that is new, what is that? How does this work? Whoa! How did we get here? Yes! That seems vaguely familiar. My head is spinning, I feel different. Whoever created this stuff is a genius; I experience their brilliance. Hey, look! I’m not in this alone—we are lost in this adventure together. We exclaim, we grimace, we hold on with white-knuckled determination; we freely shout with unabashed pleasure, we are gaining confidence, moving with heightened awareness. And suddenly, we’re finished, just like that!

Yes, I have recently become a student again, and what a ride it is. Though a crazy endeavor, its accomplishment is life-changing. The adventure begins with teachers who embrace the challenge to help people like me recapture wonder, excitement, and curiosity. I imagine they yearn for earnest learners: patient, determined, eager to grow. They safely steer their starry-eyed charges. Their instruction flows freely into empty vessels who embrace new ideas, think well independently, and consider challenges as opportunities.

I ask myself, can I possibly be that vessel, or does my baggage block the door? Am I willing to stretch outside my box? Am I determined enough if the going feels impossible? Can I honor my teacher by understanding constructive feedback is not a personal assault? Am I prepared to be a steward of new information?

Learning suddenly becomes complicated by experience. Or, is experience more like a coaster’s double loop? At first, I think it obstructs the view, but on second thought, I realize it leads me to enjoy a new path more intensely.

As an adult student in a structured teaching environment, I recognize associations more quickly. And these connections help me discern implications for other areas of life. New knowledge is revitalizing, even liberating. Scientific research says new learning produces growth in our brains, so maybe that’s why I am enlivened. My fractured understanding has become a little more whole.

Wearing the student cloak as an adult, I see a clearer picture. I become aware of how others experience the world, and I value their insights. Funny, after we exchange calling cards, I feel unusually confident and equipped to contribute in a rapidly changing, demanding world. I am inspired to improve my work, and I’m able to make informed decisions. My world gets a little smaller because I am privy to more of it, and my citizenship is bolstered by careful communication. I understand what it means to love my neighbor as myself. I realize we are on this journey together.

Did we really survive that initial ascent? Was it worth the mind-boggling twists and unexpected turns? Was it important to learn I did not not have to experience that alone?

Yes, yes, yes.

How is it possible I share a common language with a new community in such a short time? We debark together; maybe a little unsteady, maybe a little weary, but so satisfied. Why am I giggling like a child? Go again? I’m the first in line. And look, there’s a seat next to me. Hop in!




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