Why Learn More Than Is Needed?

I walked by myself last night.  It was cold with a west wind.  A west wind means that Jill and I walk out with the wind at our backs, and then turn into the wind for the entire walk back.  As I said, I walked alone last night.  

The moon was not up yet and a front was blowing in, so that high cirrus clouds were solid to the north, but splayed from a point to the south.  It was as if an ephemeral octopus’ tendrils were lacing out, trying to hold the sky to its cold self.  

I could see no stars to the south, north, east or west. 

It was only directly above me that the piercing beauty of heaven’s black vault held some steady shining stars through misting cloud or even for seconds — shining brightly above.  

Stunning they were.  No black velvet in Tiffany’s window will ever hold such a diamond or pearl as these.  

But only in snatches, and only for seconds could I make out the head and arms of Orion.  Jupiter shone brightly with Taurus trying to encircle him.  The Sisters were there for a second and gone, and away to the north Cassiopeia reclined at an odd angle.  

It came to me again, that navigators had to learn an entire night sky to be good, to be safe, to survive another night.  In a storm, they could not wait all night to find the single constellation that a neophyte would know.  No, storms are monstrous, unpredictable, and unkind.  The storm might offer a glimpse of the Gemini Twins or Perseus or Cygnus or Pegasus, and only a glimpse of a part of one of them and a navigator had to correctly see that part of that constellation and see it’s orientation and translate that to his course correctly — or wreck on the island lying in his path in the storm.  

An EMT never knows which part of his training she will need on any given call.  A counselor rarely has the option of knowing exactly what he will need at the critical juncture of the upcoming session.  We all learn more than we think we will need. 

The best prepared continue learning, and continue connecting the dots among what they know just like constellations in their knowledge by which they find their way through challenges and storms.

The Psalmist said it glibly, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”  Elsewhere he made it a little more practical: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  

So learn.  Learn more than the professor requires, he has not idea what you will need in your storm(s) to orient you and help you find your true course.  

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