I have never been good at memorizing things. Consequently spelling, multiplication tables and foreign languages have slid by the wayside. Those areas of my life took maximum effort and offered minimal results.
Medical school was the epitomy of a super challenge for me!!! Memorizing the pulsing human body in Latin, a dead foreign language. Yet, whenever someone had a question about anything, I have always been the “go to” person. I could explain in common lingo what the professors were spouting off in their scientific language scribbling across the blackboard. I remember failing a significant final exam, which would determine whether I could complete my physical therapy degree or not. The head of the department called me into his office stupefied. He was amazed that I could fail such a test when I had all the answers in class. I simply told him I’m a poor test taker. So he gave me the exam verbally and I answered 100 percent of the questions correctly. How blessed I was by this gentle understanding man who allowed me to verbally retake the failed exam. Without his assistance I would have never graduated and facilitated the healing of thousands of people.
In my later years I realized that I learn by association. For instance I grew up on the East Coast, so I remembered that the ocean is East. Although this served me well, after I moved to the West Coast, I had to re-associate my self to East and West. Even though I’ve lived on the West Coast for longer than I have the East Coast, I occasionally pause when I refer to directions. But I’ve learned that every pause in life has it’s own gift.
Another example is music. I was first chair flutist all through high school, but I never learned to read music. I knew which fingering was associated with note on which line. That was it….and no one ever knew that I couldn’t read music. Today I play the harp and compose my own music. I still don’t read music, but I have perfect pitch and I can play the music that flows through my heart. I know that the red strings are C and the blue strings are F and I can count off all the rest in between for anyone who asks what chord I’m playing. Quite simple really!!!
This morning it occurred to me how well this way of living has served me. Oh my school teachers would never agree, but I don’t think anyone ever taught them how we, as humans learn. We are a varied lot of beings. We weren’t delivered to this planet in boxes. Some of our brains are wired to memorize and it serves them very well. Others of us learn in entirely different ways.
I’ve never been content to absorb what others tell me as fact. I learn by experience and the more I experience, the more life changes, so must we. So where are the facts? Even the facts of science have changed over the years.
Was I a rebellious child? No, I simply lived a more expanded life, hovering around the edges of those who were rooted in their own personal facts. I pushed the limits. I wanted to see beyond because I’ve always known there is a beyond. I’ve never believed in black and white, I’ve always lived in full color, with a multitude of options. My daughter used to say, “Mom, you give me too many options. It confuses me.” She’s become an excellent accountant. Her brain is wired perfectly for this and it’s her gift to the world. We all have our own gifts to contribute and it’s what makes our world whole and complete.
As I child, my way of learning felt natural. As an adult in the work world, it felt like an impediment. As a wise old crone, I see it as a gift from the Divine. I live in the moment. I cycle with nature. I’m less ingrained in beliefs with a more fluid understanding of life. I don’t have to defend myself while appreciating the gifts of others.
I can’t replicate anyone else’s music, but I know how to express my own.
That’s more than enough for me.
~ Sharon Lyn Shepard
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