On Your Way to Eldorado

One of the haunting questions that I have is about learning, which is strange since in various ways, I have been involved with learning all my life...first as a student and then as a teacher. My central issue is that true learning takes much of a lifetime and tends to occur more fully toward the end of life.

Can you remember having your parents tell you to study hard, or if you wish to succeed, you must do this or that? How often have you listened to that educational truism and followed it? Then in school, the same thing occurs. A teacher might attempt to inform you about something that is important, but do you always listen?

I tell my students about the old adage: no pain, no gain. I attempt to push their learning curve to the place where they can understand and apply this adage to their lives. I want them to get it, but get it without wasting much of their I did and probably most people have. I often use Lynn Swann from the Pittsburgh Steelers as an illustration. I do know that movement forward in learning and life won't occur unless there is an obstacle...some sort of pain needs to be present. Address the pain and the road opens. Ignore the pain, and you will stew in your juices and go nowhere.

Steve Jobs Steve Jobs

I came across a commencement speech by Steve Jobs. He made his address to the graduating class of 2005 at Stanford...a half a dozen years before he died. He too saw the same problem...talking to the young about something that it took him much of his life truly to understand and learn.

You can't connect the dots looking forward;
you can only connect them looking backwards.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow
connect in your future. You have to trust in
something - your gut, destiny, life, karma,
whatever. This approach has never let me down,
and it has made all the difference in my life.

Jobs told the graduates at Stanford that they must live life without always knowing of their destination. However, connecting the dots is in hindsight. He is a perfect example.

Interestingly, Edgar Allan Poe wrote about this same dilemma in his poem: Eldorado...

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado. But he grew old--
This knight so bold--
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado. And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow-
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be--
This land of Eldorado?" "Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied--
"If you seek for Eldorado!"
Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe

Both Poe and Jobs knew that we all will face problems, pain, heartbreak, and fear in life. That is a given. Nevertheless, we need to ride boldly as Poe teaches us or as Jobs teaches us by connecting the dots looking back. Either way is the only means of getting to our dream of Eldorado.

Whether Poe's readers in 1849 or Jobs' listeners in 2005, the message is the same...ride, boldly ride. Both teachers are telling us to ride or connect the dots, and when we do, we will reach or at least come close to your Eldorado....

My problem is that in my attempting to tell my students and readers that if they are young, they won't get the complete message until much later in life. However, maybe they might get a part of the message. At least, I tried to reach one of my Eldorados.

Job's speech

Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

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