It’s an age-old question: did you learn something today?
I don’t know about your own experience, but I have been on the receiving end of this question at various points in my life, and it isn’t always comfortable to respond with the truth. Some days, there’s a definitive answer: “Yes, I learned this, that, and the other thing.” Other days, the answer is a bit more ambiguous: “Maybe… I don’t know quite yet.” There are days when the answer is a sheepish lie: “Surreeeee, I learned something. I must have, right?” Then, there are days when the answer is stubborn and abrupt: “No, I didn’t learn anything, I’m angry, and life sucks <insert an emphatic ‘Hmph!’ and childish stomp here>.”
Okay, that last sentiment may be a tad bit dramatic, but - I dare say - I believe that we all have, at one point or another, known this spectrum of feelings. Would you agree that you have gone through at least one of these types of thoughts, whether internally or externally? Whether your works and passions are based in creativity, the arts, logic, reasoning, engineering, science, service, philosophy, education, business, medicine, athletics, health, wellness, or any other section/blend of human endeavor, trying to answer this question - did you learn something today? - is not always as easy as it seems.
However, it is my belief that we can learn something from today, no matter how bright or dark the day might seem to us right now.
On The Right Track | © 2022 Chris Fiegel | All rights reserved worldwide.
Knowing that we can learn something from today may be compared to the practice of taking what you need and leaving the rest, one day at a time. No matter whether big or small, the wins and losses of our days can be markers of the lessons embedded in them. If you’ve ever seen the famed Disney/Pixar movie Finding Nemo (2003), you’ll be familiar with the upbeat, optimistic phrase: “just keep swimming.”
It seems like a choice, right? To learn something today that you didn’t know yesterday? That’s the hope, though it’s at this point where my perspective is humbled. When the successes are right in front of us, it’s relatively easy: “I know what’s good here, and I am going to appreciate the heck out of it! Woo!” Simple, right?
Writing this, I think it’s important to acknowledge that life isn’t all “hunky-dory” (an old idiom equivalent to “life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows”). Our journeys and paths in life often consist of squiggly lines rather than linear progressions. There is very real suffering and loss. Some moments are unbelievable; some moments feel unbearable. It would be insensitive - and downright irritating, as those who have been on the listening end of someone on their soapbox know - to suggest that, in the darkest moments and in the toughest times, you should find the lesson. In such moments, it can be really, really hard to see yourself as anything other than a failure.
Still, I believe you're enough just the way you are. I believe there’s always hope. Always.
Let’s Put a Pin In It | © 2022 Chris Fiegel | All rights reserved worldwide.
It may take time. It may take work. It may take space and change. It may take walking in the woods every once in a while, if that’s your thing (pictured above). It may take a 5-minute pause in your day to write down what you’re learning, if anything. It may take talking with someone else, hearing a different perspective. It may take a leap of faith, a courageous step, a gentle word, or a kind act. It may take something unseen or unknown.
That answer - the one that responds to the question: did you learn something today? - may seem as intimate as your own breath or as distant as the stars in the night sky, but I believe the answer is there somewhere - for me, for you, for anyone who faces this question with an open heart and curious mind.
In turn, I share my belief that we can learn something from today. In sharing this belief, I hold hope that we might know a single moment - or the greatest depths - of patience, maturing empathy, grateful humility, individual faith, and authentic love and hope.
In 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a prolific speech in Paris entitled “Citizenship in a Republic,” which went on to become known as “The Man in the Arena” speech due to this quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
In essence, just keep swimming.
Please feel free to take what you want from my words and stories and leave the rest, living your life wholly as yourself. With the summer heat blazing down around the United States and across various parts of the world, please take good care of yourself and others (including pets and animals) throughout this time - please keep hydrated, cool, and healthy. Be kind to yourself and others. Listen to the whispers and calls of your heart, mind, and spirit. Find joy and laughter. Tell someone you love them. Hold hope.
Until next time, thank you for your time today, and have a great one!
P.S. Each time I post, I am including a list of some of my role models, providing their links, so you, too, can see their amazing content and be inspired!
Brené Brown (brenebrown.com/)
Megan Phelps-Roper (meganphelpsroper.com/)
Robert Stern, PhD (sternneurolab.org/)
Theodore Roosevelt (whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/theodore-roosevelt/)
Tim Urban (ted.com/speakers/tim_urban)
Michael Schur (ted.com/speakers/michael_schur)
Helen Keller (g.co/kgs/UmsRFL)
Check them out, and more to come! See you next time!