Sunday, November 11, 2012

Filling A Glass With Ice Can Be Very Difficult

Filling a glass with ice seems like a very easy task, right? Grab a handful of cubes and toss em in. That's all it takes, right? Depends. If you're like me and sometimes make things more difficult than they really are, then filling a glass with ice can become very complex. 

Suppose you've interested in knowing how many cubic inches each cube takes up in the glass in order to determine how many cubes you'll need to satiate the thirsts of twenty friends coming over for a dinner party? (You hate waste, even frozen water) And just suppose, that you're really curious to know the the structure of ice and the amount of hydrogen each cube holds? 

You're probably thinking to yourself, "What on earth would you want or need to know that for? Just fill the freakin' glass with ice and if you have any left over, put it in your freakin' freezer until your next party!" And I'd have to agree but it's an example of how something to simple can become so difficult.

In my last post, Up Against The Wall, I described the dread I was feeling about writing a synopsis for my novel. Dreadful, because it was something new and something really important, but it didn't need to be difficult; it just required effort. I took the necessary actions, completed the synopsis and shipped it off to ten literary agents. Low and behold one responded the next day with interest to read the   entire manuscript! I never expected a response at all let alone a positive one. I understand the odds of gaining representation and just completing the synopsis and sending out submissions was satisfaction in themselves. 

The ice in the glass analogy came to me while running today  as many solutions do. "It's just work, it doesn't have to made difficult," I told myself. Now, I just have to remember that as I open my sketch book and stare at a blank piece of drawing paper.

A late addition and related to the above, my wife shared an All Things Considered segment with me, Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning. In it, UCLA Professor James Stigler whose research focuses on understanding processes of teaching and learning says, "I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you're just not very smart," Stigler says, "It's a sign of low ability — people who are smart don't struggle, they just naturally get it, that's our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity." In Eastern cultures,  it's just assumed that struggle is a predictable part of the learning process. Everyone is expected to struggle in the process of learning, and so struggling becomes a chance to show that you, the student, have what it takes emotionally to resolve the problem by persisting through that struggle."

Two ways of viewing struggle both of which can help me  accept that actions that may be experienced as a struggle help make me improve and become develop skills.