My friend Patsy and I spent several years teaching new school administrators. I don’t remember the topic or the moment she told this story in the multi-day training, but the lesson stuck in my brain. I’ve needed to remind myself more often than I care to admit that I know a lot—but.
Six-year-olds often share wisdom that surprises us. On this particular day, Dr. Susan met with patient Patsy who suffered from a mysterious illness with multiple symptoms. The young doctor prescribed rest and told the patient she would be fine.
“But doctor, don’t you think you shoud give me a prescription? I’ve had these symptoms before, and I know what will make it better.”
At this, Dr. Susan put her hands on her hips and smiled wryly at her patient.
“Miss Patsy, you may know a lot. But, you don’t know everything.”
Experience and education teach us a lot. We believe we are brilliant and ready to take on the world in our early twenties. Somewhere along the way, we realize maybe we have more to learn until we don’t.
We stop learning.
Without warning, we can slowly fall into the proverbially deep rut losing our playfulness and curiosity for life.
The remedy? Take on a beginner’s mind. Be childlike. Play. Notice what’s right in front of you.
Learning and practicing making photographs sent me back to my beginner’s mind. That space where you don’t know and the only way out is curiosity and exploration.
When I find myself sinking or stuck, I open my perspective, try something new, stay curious—play. Some ideas to try.
Go outside look for—stuff—bugs, leaves that look like Elvis, or clouds chasing elephants.
Find a box of watercolors or finger paints. Dabble in the colors and see what takes shape.
Take a walk in your neighborhood. Look for five things you never noticed before.
Learn a new skill or craft, but approach it with childlike enthusiasm, not as a chore or competition.
Yes, you know a lot, but you (and I) don’t know everything.
I’ve always loved dancing, but have you ever wanted to dance with love?
You might also try dancing ‘till you can’t stop the feeling with Justin Timberlake.
"Sometimes, what you already know gets in the way of what you need to learn."
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few
My camera and I found a little wonder this week.
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