When my daughter was 2 years old, we sat at the table having lunch, and there was a bowl of cherries. (Don’t worry – I’m not going to tell you life is like a bowl of cherries; someone else has already said that – my favorite pithy metaphor is that life is like a roller-coaster: scream when it’s scary.)
I had to teach her there are pits inside, how to properly bite into a cherry, and how to remove the pit.
It took her some time, but she got it. She bit half off, struggled to remove the pit, and then she just beamed with pride. She had a look of pure joy that she was able to do this thing she hadn’t done before.
That’s what learning is all about.
We all love it when we can either suddenly do something we couldn’t do before or look back after some time and have pride in having mastered something.
The problem is once we’ve mastered something, it isn’t as much fun. In fact, it’s often boring.
If I gave you the task of pitting cherries, it’d be kind of boring, right?
We don’t enjoy doing things that are boring. We like doing things that are just at our threshold. Just challenging enough. (See waxing the floor article & crocheting article.
This is why video games are so great – because whenever you move to another level of the game, it gets slightly harder. Then you have to learn how to get past the new level. And so forth.
What if mastering your life – being the best, most authentic version of you – were the goal? This task, as opposed to pitting cherries, ought never be something we master.
As Michelangelo said at 80 years old, “I am still learning.”
May it be so with us.
Learn to master being you.