Learning

Posted on: October 5, 2018, by :

My beloved Magpies didn’t quite get over the line last Saturday! Congratulations to the West Coast Eagles and their supporters – it was a great game of football and the Eagles were ahead when it counted most. On Sunday, Heather and I did something we’ve never done before: we attended the Collingwood Post-Grand Final Supporters Day! There were thousands of people there, young and old, happy and sad, with teeth and without teeth. President Eddie McGuire, coach Nathan Buckley and Captain Scott Pendlebury all addressed the crowd as the players were presented and thanked for their contribution throughout the year. The crowd was strongly supportive of the group, appreciating what the team had achieved in 2018, and I was quite impressed with the attitude of the leadership group – deeply disappointed in what they had let slip, affirming of the effort of the Eagles in clawing their way into a winning position, but genuinely hopeful and open to what they can learn from the experience to make them better people and a better football team.

Perhaps the quote of the day came from Nathan Buckley who said, ‘we didn’t get what we wanted yesterday but we have what we need for today.’ He went on to reflect on the importance of learning from and integrating both positive and negative experiences in life.

I was reminded of an ancient Hassidic tale about the Four Rabbanim who were carried away by an angel to the very presence of God. Upon their return to earth, the four rabbis responded very differently: one, having seen such splendour, lost his mind; a second dismissed the experience as nothing more than a meaningless dream; a third became totally obsessed with the experience, reflecting, writing and lecturing about it ad nauseum; and the fourth? The fourth took a paper and a reed and sat near the window singing song after song, writing poem after poem, praising all in sight: the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, the stars in the sky … … and he lived his life just a little better than before.

Perhaps it’s the same with every life experience, momentous or mundane? Our response might be to go crazy, to deny it, to obsess about it, or we could let it move us to ‘do beautifully the things you love to do’ (as Ernesto Sirolli puts it) and so live a better life. A mindful approach to life helps us to learn from life’s experiences, big and small, and, so learning, to be the better people we seek to be.

Now is the most important time, because it is the only time when we have any power. The most important person is the one with whom we are now, for no-one knows whether they will have dealings with anyone else. And the most important thing is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone were we sent into this life!  [Tolstoy, Three Questions]

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