Lessons in life are best learned in life, not in removed contexts.
Being raised in the American public school system (so I’m dealing with this specific context) I was taught that I was preparing for everyday life by attending school.
But from the very beginning, that statement always irked me. You mean to tell me that I’m shoved in and out of classrooms day-to-day to get ready for real life? What are you trying to tell me? It never quite made any sense.
I could talk about the intricacies of life in philosophical and intellectually (read: all talk and no walk) ways, but up until now I had never really experienced this higher tier of “real life”.
5 a.m., August 29th, 2011, I became the new owner of a 5-week-old kitten. Through hundreds of names, we all finally decided on Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui for short.
He was a playful little kitten, gnawing and scratching at everything in his sight. All objects in range were play toys. But as we soon figured out, his eye was infected (a phenomenon affecting the whole litter) and his brother Tiberius had a worse case. So it was our mission, as recent high school graduates, to use our limited resources for the good of kittens.
Well, 16 hours later, half a tank of gas gone, and after multiple vet excursions, the infection was counteracted. We had literally saved the blindness of kittens. Now, that sounds pretty cool. But we met harsh, very real circumstances. Lessons were learned. At the end of the day, I was a completely different person.
How do you teach “Calm and Collective in Stressful Situations 101” or “Foundations of Utilizing Resources in Record Time to Accomplish your Life Goals”? You can’t learn that in a classroom setting. It has to be earned through real-time situations, where all the stakes are against you and there is no retreat.
Ultimately, life is meant to be lived, not talked about.