“Turn the keys in the ignition.”
OMG OMG OMG The engine is on OMG OMG
“This is the gear stick. Press your left foot down. And push the gear stick into 1st. This is the hand brake. Release the handbrake.”
OMG OMG OMG The engine is on. OMG OMG OMG.
“Release the handbrake.”
OMG WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE
“Clare… Can you hear me..? I said ‘Release the handbrake.”
OMG OMG OMG THE CAR IS MOVING IT IS MOVING ON A ROAD AN ACTUAL ROAD I AM DRIVING ON A ROAD A ROAD WITH CARS OMG OMG OMG. WE ARE DYING. THIS IS THE END.
Repeat that for 30 minutes and we have a transcript of my first driving lesson, aged 17, Cardiff.
In all that OMGing there was very little space for information to find its way in and to be turned, via action into learning.
Shame because the information was costing £2.50 for 30 minutes which, in 1987, could have bought a small semi-detached house near the Arms Park.
The thing is, the design is perfect:
information triggers a physical event
physical event creates more information
That’s the perfect design of this body and brain of ours.
That’s how the learning of everything happens from the first movement of a baby’s hand towards a toy to the most finely tuned skills of an Olympic athlete.
There is an experiment in which a coach kicks a football to Ronaldo and before the ball even leaves the coach’s feet the lights are turned out plunging the room into pitch darkness. Without being able to see a single thing, Ronaldo makes contact with the ball and wallops it into goal.
Information. Physical event. More information. Learning. Over and over and over and over again. Until the most extraordinary feats can be achieved.
And as we saw, to the despair of the driving instructor, sometimes something gets in the way of that smooth process.
And that is the the thing that cannot be found anywhere as a physical event, that does not exist as an entity, but that thinks it is in control of it all: the idea of self.
Without that idea of self in the way, the driving lesson would have been:
‘Put the car into first gear.’
Car put into first gear.
Clare driving a car. Job done.
The ONLY thing, THE ONLY THING, distracting from the natural simplicity of learning was a self leaping around exclaiming about itself.
There are limits to physical and cognitive capability of course. But these are just information in the learning process.
Without a self saying ‘this must be done like this’ or ‘I can’t do this’, there are infinite ways round these limits.
Without a self labelling tasks difficult and information confusing and itself stupid or crap at money or bad at reading maps or not a conversationalist, there is only learning. And potential for more learning.
The idea of self – the only thing to ever impede human learning.
This is why Garret Kramer says, ‘The one thing that the most productive, consistent human beings do not possess is an intense belief in themselves’.
And how ironic that we believe the key to human potential IS the self. That if only someone could have enough self-confidence, self-belief and self-esteem then there is nothing they couldn’t achieve.
Because let’s look what happens there. We might say to our student, client, child or self
‘Be more confident.’
‘Believe in yourself’
‘Don’t be scared of failure’
‘Winners think like winners’
Where do they go, these instructions to a self?
They come in. They are heard.
But there is no actual event that can happen because the self isn’t actual.
They cannot translate into physical or cognitive action. An instruction comes in ‘wave your hand’. The hand will wave.
But the instruction ‘believe in yourself’ – where does that go, what can be done with it, what would that even be? Nothing.
Nothing because there is nothing that can do anything and there is nothing to believe in.
No movement = no feedback. No feedback = no information. No information = no learning.
Nothing happening. No learning. No change.
Just another pile of random beliefs to add to that random pile of beliefs which forms the self.
‘I should be more confident’ ‘I should believe in myself’ ‘I shouldn’t be scared of failure’ ‘I should think like a winner’.
And that pile of beliefs just gets bigger and bigger and creates an apparent reality that is more and more in contradiction to the natural, miraculous, form-transforming processes that maintain the entire planet and which are just carrying on regardless.
Learning, responding, processing, adapting.
The physical body and brain is a miraculous learning machine, created and powered by life itself, exquisitely designed for information.
From this physical body and brain arose the power of imagination and belief, which made possible all concepts – including past, future, success, failure, money, sport, business, cooking, parenting, self…
These concepts are so vividly imagined and believed that they look real
And there the confusion arises…
Because the self (a concept) tries to master or control another concept.
Impossible. There is nothing there to master anything. And there is nothing there to be mastered.
At the level of any concrete, physical event it is profoundly simple. Anything can be learned.
‘Driving’ made concrete starts with: ‘Move into first gear.’
‘Cooking’ made actual begins: ‘Mix the flour with the eggs.’
‘Business’ brought into the realm of learning starts with: ‘Calculate the profit.’
‘Parenting’ made real is, ‘Change the baby’s nappy.’
‘Sport’ made learnable is, ‘Hold the racket like this’.
The key to learning? The key to all human potential?
Enquire into these concepts that seem to hold such importance:
What is the self?
Who am I?
What is the future?
What is the past?
What is success?
What is failure?
There is no answer.
There is nothing.
without all that confusion,
absent of idea of self,
as it always does,