The last three weeks have been so extraordinary, I could write a book about the experience. But I won’t. Partially, because I am too lazy, partially because there isn’t enough time, partially because there is no audience, and mostly because so much of the information is privileged and it wouldn’t be right to share.
I will most likely share bits and pieces and observations — no names, and enough generalities as I can process the universal from the particular.
That can be a real stumbling block for some people. There’s an art to calibrating our learning — how we go about determining which lessons we learn can become personal guidelines, and which ones are so married to the individual circumstances as to be useless. It is a shame when people over-extend their worldview with a sample-size that’s too small to support it. Like me, for instance, forming an early opinion about the Dallas Cowboys tainted by my first experience with a Cowboys fan. He was annoying and cocky, and made me want to root against the team.
Every culture and sub-culture has its tales and legends about this very phenomenon, when we read too much into first impressions, learn too much from a single encounter. In my experience, I’ve run across the following:
- The woman who pins cotton balls to the screen door as a way to ward off mosquitoes (not realizing her mother only did so to plug actual holes in the screen.)
- The woman who cuts the end off her holiday ham, and bakes it in a separate dish (not realizing her mother did it that way because her oven was too small.)
I’ll share more of the last three weeks once I process the useful little lessons from the extraordinary anecdotes. Because if something is truly extraordinary, it really shouldn’t contribute to rules about the ordinary, should it?
I’ll be pondering this on my long drive home today. While I work on that, help me come up with other examples of this over-extension of learning. Share in the comments your versions of the ‘cotton balls’ and ‘ham’ tales — the ones that taught you about rethinking what you thought you knew.
[tags]Ike Pigott, Occam’s RazR, learning[/tags]