How do we learn?
Or “How to Change a Lightswitch”
Grease and orange cleaner: that’s the smell of my father. My dad fixed cars as an auto mechanic for 25 years and can identify the make and model of anything pre-1980, simply by looking at the headlights. He had an answer for everything and just seemed to know how the world worked. One day (I must have been 10 or 12), we were in the garage installing a new light switch. We turned off the power at the breaker and started swapping out the old switch for a new one. He used a pair of yellow-handled wire strippers that he still has to this day. My dad owns only one of each tool. “If you have more than one, you’ll lose it!” he says.
After unscrewing the light-switch faceplate, he knelt down on the concrete and showed me how to strip the wires, that the green wire is the ground, and that the four-pronged screwdriver tip is called a “Phillips.” We were halfway through the project when I turned to him and asked him how I was going to learn all this kind of stuff that he instinctively knew. “Where am I going to learn all this?” I asked him. He didn’t laugh or shrug the question off, he looked me in the face and matter-of-factly said “Right now. This is where you learn it. Right here.”
Every single day. Every single opportunity. Every single experience, conversation, failure, success. Every book, every song. Every time you read a headline. Every time you learn a new joke.
This is where we learn.