Constantly unlearning and relearning

Those are words, now etched in my title, I read as I scrolled through my WhatsApp contact list the other day.

It was someone else’s status message

And I have to confess. I have not always enjoyed learning. Simply because when you start that process of learning, it is difficult to stop.

As you learn this thing today, there’s that and the next thing tomorrow which can be added to your prior knowledge. The know-how compounds this way. And as it does that, it (sort of) compels you to keep taking yet another step, painstakingly placing one foot on a higher rung on the ladder each time, however laborious it may be.

In a board game called ‘Draught’, there is an interesting rule.

Touch is a move!

That’s it. And if you have played the game before you would know that it is somewhat difficult to follow that rule at the beginning. This is partly because you might not be confident and decisive enough in the moves you make on the board.

As you become a better player, grow more confident, each move then happens almost automatically — you stop second guessing and third guessing your ability to make the right call. The perfect move at a given time.

Learning then, from that standpoint, is a fascinating thing.

The more knowledge you gather, the more confident and calm you feel when faced with delicate situations.

The more experienced the driver, the more beautifully they will negotiate a tricky curve or mountainous and rugged roads. And you bet they will make it look effortless.

The same goes for a professional speaker of decent quality. Standing in front of hundreds of people to deliver any type of story — whether that be jokes, a solemn address during a very difficult time, whatever — is not easy. So, the human beings who make it look effortless are geniuses. Those are the people I go crazy over.

(Hence) I think I might scream uncontrollably when I meet and greet Vusi Thembekwayo. Or, Eusebius McKaiser.

The vast brain power responsible for their eloquence, emotional astuteness and the ability to transform another person through their work is what stands out for me.

Constantly un-learning and re-learning.

It is a beautiful process to go through. What you learn today will not be as useful in two months’ time, at which point you have to push that knowledge farther farther back and learn anew. You stay stagnant, you rot.

The mind then, it being a muscle that can be strengthened, remains untransformed and endures mind numbing sameness (nonsensically cool, ain’t it?) and instead of growing, it withers in the hands of tedium.

Personally, I doubt I will be able to survive a setting where I do not make active steps to get mentally stimulated and at the back of that, be so much better at my telling stories.

Get crisper in my speaking, in the lacing and weaving of words and sounds and commas, exclamation marks, hyphens and stories together.

I want to get sharper with and expand my emotional arsenal.

Be among the best to ever walk the earth.

However, the lofty goal thrusts me back to Bongani Tau’s mantra:

Constantly unlearning and relearning.