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Learning The Wrong Lesson.


In life there are always experiences which present opportunities to learn valuable lessons. If we learn them, we can become better individuals, and live more fulfilling lives. Sometimes we miss the lesson, which is a loss. But worse than missing the lesson is learning the wrong one.

Imagine for a moment a taxi driver tailgating a car as they approach a stoplight. The light changes to yellow, the car in front stops, and the taxi driver runs into the poor law abiding female driver. Yes, I'm about to pick on taxi drivers. No, I'm not going to criticize the woman for stopping, but making her female is far more interesting.

So out jumps the taxi driver who proceeds to cuss the woman, question her ancestry, and make a mockery of her motoring skills. Of course he is in the wrong, and this should teach him to leave some space for air between his bumper and the car in front of him. He should also learn that yellow and green are not different shades of the same colour. Instead he chooses to learn that women drivers are timid, and obviously colour blind.

Sometimes we are all like taxi men. We learn the wrong lesson, because it is easier to blame someone else for our mistake. We also learn the wrong lesson when we are grossly ignorant of the fact that our outlook or actions are flawed.

When the casualties of our ignorance are qualities that will help us lead more satisfying lives, we are losing in a high stakes game. For example: we all crave acceptance, and we can sate this craving only by laying ourselves bare to another. This requires us to open ourselves, and trust another person to tread cautiously with what we reveal. Such endeavours are fraught with challenges. Not everyone is comfortable with emotional nudity, and they may not handle our revelation well. Or perhaps we should have done a strip tease instead of flashing the victim of our disclosure.

Overall, getting hurt is inevitable, but that does not mean that we should go through life in constant fear of pain. Neither does it mean that we should be reckless taxi drivers; there are no insurance policies for hearts and feelings. While it is essential to be careful of who we trust, it is equally important to mind how quickly we place our trust in others. Instead of rushing headlong into the next person, we need to step on our brakes and pace ourselves.

The wrong lesson, the lesson we often choose to learn, is to close the door to our soul and let no one in. We learn that we are too complicated to be understood and accepted. We immolate openness and trust on the altar of skepticism, having suffered rejection and feeling that our trust was betrayed. Then we place our hearts and feelings on ice, bury them within, and leave them there.
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