Amy Rees Anderson

Experience: That Most Brutal Of Teachers

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” –C.S. Lewis

So true, isn’t it? When we look back at our lives we always find that experience was the very best teacher in life. Some days I really wish that wasn’t the case because often times experience can be brutal to go through, but at the end of the day it is always the teacher that teaches you the most.

It was a conversation with my son that got me thinking about this topic. As we were coming back into the country yesterday and as we were going through customs we were talking about how his sister didn’t know how to go through customs when she came back into the country from her time at the missionary training center down in Mexico, even though as a family we had taken international trips together many times and had gone through customs together as a family before. My son pointed out to me, “Yeah mom, but we don’t really pay attention to how to do something until we have to do it for ourselves for the first time.” I responded, “Yeah but if you don’t pay attention when I am doing it with you to teach you then you will do it wrong when you have to do it for yourself.” To which he replied, “Yeah, but it only takes doing it wrong once and then I will never do it wrong again, trust me! I never forget the lessons I had to learn the hard way.”

And there it was. The sad truth. We never forget the lessons we had to learn the hard way do we? But my goodness it would be so much better if we could learn our lessons the easy way by just paying attention when someone else is teaching us. But I suppose we don’t fully appreciate that until we are quite a bit older in life and have finally figured out just how painful it is to always learn through our own difficult experiences rather than learning from the wisdom of others.  If we could start at a younger age being willing to seek out the wisdom of others experiences and be willing to pay more attention to what we are being taught by them we could avoid so much heartache in our lives. But those early years are typically the years we feel the most certain that we know “it all” and don’t need anyone’s help…the irony is that the older we get and the more hard things we go through the more we realize that we aren’t even close to knowing “it all”…once again, its that master teacher of experience at work in our lives…Painful? Yes. Effective? You betcha!

And so I am reminded to try and avoid having life experience be the grand teacher in my life by trying more often to seek out the wisdom of those with their own painful experiences that I can learn from instead. I am thankful to be surrounded by great mentors and advisors in my life that allow me to learn from their experience.

We can all benefit from learning from the experience of others, and we can all give back by sharing the difficult lessons we have learned ourselves. I suppose that is also one of the reasons I so openly share many of my own hard life lessons in my blogs. A part of me hopes that the hard experiences I go through and the lessons that I learn can potentially help someone else avoid making the same mistakes I have made so they won’t have to learn it the hard way too.

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others because you won’t have time to make them all yourself.” –Albert Sheinwold

Have a great day everyone!

~Amy

1 Comment

  • B says:

    My favourite is from Benjamin Franklin:
    “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that.”

    and my oh my, am I one of them fools and that last part applies to me as well
    :))

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