What Cannot Be Taught Can Still Be Learned
The past couple of weeks have been rather difficult. I spent the weekend thinking about it, when I wasn’t writing, running, or cooking. Or, what I like to call the Trifecta of Distraction.
The thought that keeps echoing in my mind is, “How dare you?”
Three words. They mean a lot. They say a lot. I’m over here, fuming. I’m ticked off, and I’m flummoxed. Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: you don’t toss in the towel when things get tough. No, that’s when you pull on your kickass boots and find an ass to kick.
Get mad. Get indignant. Get going. Certainly, don’t give up. Because you know what happens then? Well, divide nothing by nothing, times it by nothing – and you get fuck all. Yeah, that’s right: nothing.
Believe me, there are times when I do not want to get out of bed. There are times where the last thing I want to do is talk to people. There are times I cannot talk about things, simply because I don’t have the words. Or the words hurt too much, like swallowing a bomb encased in broken glass. There are other times where I feel like I can’t take two steps in any direction.
To that, I say: bugger it.
Over the past year, I have seen a lot of things. I have seen people fumble the proverbial ball worse than Ray Finkle. (Laces out!) I have seen professionals act like children. I have seen compassion and dedication burn away like fog in the midday sun. I have seen countless people who SHOULD know better prove that an education doesn’t make you a better human being – or a more qualified one. No, it just means you sat through classes and managed not to fail.
You know what school doesn’t teach people? It doesn’t teach them how to fight. How to see a person in front of you and really see them. It doesn’t teach you how to dig your heels in and say, hell no, not me – not now. It doesn’t teach you how to be strong or how to be brave. It doesn’t teach you wisdom. It teaches you facts and reasoning.
But at the end of the day, no one is looking to be held by facts of logic. No one is looking be soothed and placated by impartiality. No, we’re all looking for courage, passion, and kindness.
So many people seem to missing the last one, although it is the simplest of things.
Nothing, except life, teaches you how to look someone in the eye – and refuse to walk away. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, or who this person is. A friend, a lover, a boss, a doctor, a priest, a stranger – whatever.
Ultimately, you make that choice. You make the choice to be a coward and an asshole. You make the choice to try and snuff out the last candle of hope someone might have. You make the choice to act like a callous person, who is more worthy of Tin Man (person) status than anything else.
It is a choice, and some people choose poorly. Some people fail to see the individual, looking at only the numbers. But numbers change. And there is always hope, always another way. And I’ll be damned if I let anyone tell me – or anyone I love – otherwise.
You can be smart and capable, but still not possess enough kindness to fill a thimble. You can be technically right, but fundamentally wrong.
Don’t let anyone dictate your truth. Don’t let anyone squash your drive or your heart. And the next time someone looks at you, with a mix of pity and boredom, you have my permission to call them a coward and prove them wrong.
And when you do, I want to hear about it.
“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” ― St. Francis of Assisi