With nearly every activity I learned to do as I was growing up came the refrain “Practice makes perfect”. I say “nearly every activity” because there were some activities I had to learn which didn’t exactly come with a set of instructions which could be followed in any kind of logical order – mainly because someone appeared to have forgotten to write the list of instructions in the first place.
The things which I have learned to do through the medium of practising them have sometimes been harder for me to pick up again when I have gone back to them after a break.
The easiest things for me to remember how to do have been the ones where I have had to figure out my own way of achieving the same result as the rest of the known population. For example – identifying the correct bus to my destination from the many and varied choices on offer as they hurtle towards me on a main road in the dark, or working out exactly how steep the staircase is which is between me and the floor below me, or – even worse – orienting myself so I can find my way around in bright lights.
Dear reader – I would dearly love to be able to explain exactly how I managed to train myself to read print which is at least two font sizes smaller than I am comfortable with. However, I think I would have to resort to the cliche about necessity being the mother of invention – as in – don’t ask me how I managed it but I realised I needed to do it so I could get through Secondary School. Funnily enough – if I were to hand you something I have written by hand you would probably be surprised by how small my handwriting is.
I suppose it is like my favourite sort of word puzzles. I don’t know if you have ever tried to do an “Arrowword” puzzle (a bit like a crossword but without the black squares – and the clues have an arrow showing which direction the answer is supposed to go in) but I love them. My favourite part is where you have gaps between letters and you have the full alphabet to play with so you can find the word you are looking for.
Come to think of it – the way I learned Dutch was a bit of Trial and Error. I soon worked out that there were certain patterns to words and – once I had learned that, “uit” means “out” and “gang” means “gangway”, for example, I understood that any word containing either of those two words would involve either going out or a gangway. “Uitgang” – by the way – is “Exit” (“Entrance” in Dutch is “Ingang”).
We all have to learn how to find our own ways of doing things – some of us can do this through tweaking a well-used recipe so it is more to our liking, others just have to find a way of matching themselves to everybody else without the assistance you may get from a textbook.
We need to live in a Society where both the “Practice Makes Perfect” Brigade and the “Trial And Error” Brigade can live in harmony and learn from each other.