A lesson in concentration

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by Major Terry CamseyTo be absolutely honest, I was not surprised. In fact, it was ­ in some ways ­ quite refreshing!

There were warning signs of course. After I paid the gas bill, the lady told me the green light wasn’t functioning. “Don’t worry, though,” she assured me, “it does work… all you have to do is punch in the numbers and move forward to the usual place.”

I punched in the numbers she gave me and moved forward. It was then that I noticed another woman had not yet exited and this caught me off balance. Thinking of the lack of a green light, and the lady who had not exited, I forgot to wind up my window. The machine started and…

…”whoosh…” I got soaked to the skin as the water spurted in…all over the steering wheel, all over me, all over my wife, and ­ finally ­ settling in a puddle in the driver’s seat where I was perched. It didn’t take long to wind up the window, but the damage (to my dignity, more than to the car) was done. I felt like that guy in the TV ad who goes through the car wash, sans car, for a shower!

One thing is for sure; I’ll never use that car wash again without being extra cautious. Lesson learned!

I remember something I read many years ago written by a wise man. “Never learn anything until the not-knowing-of-it has become a nuisance!” I have proved that to be so in my life since, truly, it has only been when I really needed to know something that I was spontaneously motivated to learn. And there is a significant difference between being taught and learning. Haven’t you sat, in many settings, through teaching you have been obliged to attend, yet ­ without any real motivation to learn or interest in the subject matter ­ come away knowing nothing further as a result?

I was watching a television program the other night in which a character put it slightly differently, yet just as accurately. He suggested that, “You can only teach someone as much as they want to learn!” We can’t always blame the teacher if lessons are not learned; the student has a role to play as well.

Much of our willingness (or not) to learn has to do with our perceived credibility of the teacher. But beware the assumption that, to teach, one must be able to do! Do women distrust a gynecologist because, being male, he has not actually had a baby?

It has been my privilege, over many years, to constantly strive to hone the gift of music that God has blessed me with. (Yes, even gifts must be worked on if we are to glorify God by maximizing those gifts. Not even the most gifted are exempt.)

Now, if a physical therapist in a white coat came to my door, and told me he could help me play my cornet better by improving my stance and, thus, the way I breath so that the tonal quality and stamina might be improved, I should invite her in. Whether or not she plays the cornet is immaterial. She has a knowledge I lack and ­ because I want to learn ­ I am teachable and can learn from such instruction. (Incidentally, the fact that I am getting on in years makes no difference to my teachability. As long as the Lord allows me to keep playing, then there is always room for improvement.)

The sad thing is that so many of us settle down too soon and determine there is nothing more for us to learn. In 1899, Charles Duell, commissioner of the United States Office of Patents, recommended shutting down the agency. “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” he declared. Strange thing to say of a nation, “under God,” whose citizens (as any nation, whether they know it or not) are created in the image of God…the “creative creation” of the Ultimate Creator.

“Study to show thyself approved…” the Bible urges. “Be all that you can be,” says that other Army. If you don’t feel like it, try a car wash with the windows down…

… If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is!

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