A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. – Seneca
What does that mean?
Back in the time of this quote, gemstones were polished by grinding. Cutting and cleaving, as we know them today, had yet to be invented.
If you wanted something shiny, you ground it to the basic shape, then smoothed it with fine grit, and then polished it. Each stage was done by way of friction, and the grinding off of the parts which were unwanted.
The result of a great deal of work was a perfected gemstone, polished and shiny. Similarly, humans are perfected through the learning process, which include pop quizzes and the occasional essay test, or trial.
In this manner, we polish ourselves. We go through trials, and the ideas that don’t work are eliminated and better ones are created or found. With each learning experience, we become better, and we approach perfection.
Why is learning important?
It is one thing to face a trial, a test, a difficulty or a challenge. That happens all the time. What matters is that we learn from these events and that we either avoid them next time, or at least move past them with much less difficulty than last time.
That means we have to learn. To learn, we have to have been paying attention. If we’re just drifting along through life, we’re probably not paying much attention, right? But we also need to properly analyze what happened and why, if we are to avoid it in the future.
These skills are learned by repetition, which is why babies and toddlers frequently do things over and over before learning, and then knowing better. Eventually, we begin to recognize patterns, and learning gets easier. And the more you learn, the easier it is to spot the patterns.
The same goes for determining why things happen, so that we might better avoid the problem next time. If you keep having the same problem, it might be worth taking a little time to examine what you think the nature of the problem is, and see if that is something you need to change.
Where can I apply this in my life?
This quote is as much about attitude as it is about fortitude. The quote talks about how we, as humans, are perfected. Trials, tribulations, obstacles, and difficulties of all shapes and sizes are all around us.
As we clear our path, we learn how to avoid or deal with each different situation. Over time, most of us get pretty good at recognizing and either avoiding, or minimizing, the effort needed to get past them. In this manner, we have been perfected.
Whether it’s a skill set we are perfecting, our ability to interact socially, or working on our relationships, we are attempting to become better at every turn. Yes, sometimes we make mistakes, but that provides another learning opportunity as well.
In short, that was the long way of saying you have been doing this your entire life, and will likely be doing it until your very last breath. It is part of how humans operate, and how life seems to work. The only question is how well you do it, and how much attention you pay to these events.
Like a baby, picking up a toy and dropping it, over and over again, some people try the same thing, hoping for a better result. A baby doesn’t understand that gravity still works, and doesn’t need to be continually tested. An addict, for some reason, cannot understand that they are making things worse.
The first step is usually to stumble into a situation. Now you have to figure out what happened, and what needs to be done to get out of the situation. If you have no idea, then you can expect to take some time, and to learn a number of ways that don’t work.
You can also try to find information to help you. You can learn from the lessons others were taught, and polish yourself more quickly and more easily than they were able to manage. You can use books, the internet, or even a friend who has some experience.
After a few of these, you start recognizing patterns. It’s kind of like figuring out that hangovers seem to be related to drinking. You start seeing the trials from a greater and greater distance. This is you, approaching perfection, as that particular trial can no longer polish you.
We are all imperfect beings. We all need a little polishing here and there. We can either whine about what is happening to us, or we can focus on learning so that it doesn’t happen again. My path in this matter is clear. Which will you do?
From: Twitter, @DavidRoads
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna162971.html
Photo by Claire P.
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