The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there – L.P. Harley
So what? I ask myself, things move on and what’s gone is gone, irrelevant isn’t it?
However it is relevant because we learn from past experiences, hoping that this ‘knowledge‘ will serve us well in the future i.e. the here and now. Our brains get wired in this way. Unfortunately many things we’ve learned in the past just would not apply today. I am not even talking about caveman times. The changes in our own lifetimes are astounding. What worked for us 10 years ago or even last year may not get the same results today. And many careers are having to change because of it. I’ve heard that what Uni students learn in first year computer studies, is probably outdated by the time the course ends. It really helps nowadays to learn fast and think on your feet!
Being a perfectionist, I would like to get a grip on all I’ve learned and on all I would like to know but there is a sea of information these days, of which you and I will only ever know a tiny portion; a bay or two, a rock here, the fishes there, the tides if we’re lucky . Each person’s knowledge is unique and even though it will overlap with others’ knowledge to a point, the overlap is probably shrinking.
On the one hand the world is shrinking. Trends and ideas spread across Westernised countries faster than you can say Youtube. But on the other hand we are now getting the chance to easily explore our passions, delve into subject and become experts. Who hasn’t lost a few hours on the internet when we stumble upon something that fascinates us? We are actually becoming even more unique! Behind the general overview of the latest trends which we share with our friends, we have the chance to become more specialised, learning tiny details that interest only us and other devotees to our subject. If we want, we can find our ‘tribe’, those others who are fascinated by the minutiae of whatever interests us. Lizard specialists, or Trekkies, crochet enthusiasts, fly fishermen, you name it can share their enthusiasm.
For my part, I was used to a fairly a linear path of education where your text book was in chapters, start to finish and I felt I could grasp all that was going on, (indeed panicked if I didn’t).
What current technology means is that I have to let my perfectionism go; realise I will only ever know a minute amount of anything and that I have to collaborate, ask and learn from others repeatedly in order to live well. We are all newbies and always will be.
Where I work, I am in a team of 6 and we constantly ask ‘the room’ if anyone knows anything about X, because each of us has our own particular memory for parts of the job. We are all in awe of what the other remembers. Much as we share a love of the job and are good at it, we are just wired differently. Knowledge in this day and age must truly be shared and continually embraced in order not to be left behind.
My teenage daughter says that her generation don’t get overwhelmed by all that’s ‘out there’; they just learn to filter better, know where to go, what to ignore and what to pay attention to. Lucky them!
I would like to leave the past behind and become the easy going next generation. My brain is having to be rewired. I can’t panic when faced with social media, HTML and CSS in order to redesign this blog and personalise it. I will learn!
In that foreign country called the past, most of my teachers were quite staid and strict. Everything had rules and regulations with attendant consequences. My kids’ teachers now are mostly more easy going and if they try to live by the rules of the past (where what you say goes just because you are the teacher) they are not respected by the students. A lot more debate seems to go on. I imagine the teachers have it tough unless they are open, authentic and willing to adapt to this generation. Respect isn’t a given any more.
What doesn’t change from the more recent past is human nature. Babies like the same basic games like peek a boo and the same simple toys such as blocks and things you can push. Toddlers will be selfish and try to establish their place, building their egos as they go and will need gentle guidance in the ways of sharing. Teenagers often think they are invincible. Twenty somethings might be more materialistic than their elders. And so it goes on. In my 40’s I don’t know what is to come next as it hasn’t been experienced yet. The 50 year olds now can’t tell me because what they are experiencing now may be completely different when I get there. Or maybe it won’t…
I think some things will remain the same as we move into the ‘future’ – our personal morals, the human touch, being wired to connect, give, share and help. Maturity and the ability to negotiate life without too much disappointment and reactivity come to you at the pace you set. What you are not born with or taught can be self learned from taking a step back and observing; by not getting sucked in to the insanity of non stop mind traffic which most people are caught up in. A good dose of Eckhart Tolle sets me straight when life becomes overwhelming. I remember to drop my stories about what I am experiencing to go within and just be. Breathe, one two one two :). Be aware of awareness. A simple remedy.
But the point of my ramblings is just to remind myself to slow down, not be overwhelmed by the choices we now have; to find the essence of what makes life enjoyable. Sure, the younger generations can negotiate computers better than we ever will and thank goodness for that. And if we’re lucky we are at a place where we can just be; tolerant, understanding and accepting of all that comes. If the past is a foreign country, then the present is home and home is where the heart is.