Children learning to crawl approach the surroundings with unstoppable curiosity and an eager, joyful sense of adventure. They have no concern for how they look nor the judgments of others. What propels them forward is a general delight in all that is unfamiliar; an ability to be intrigued by the mundane; and a desire to probe the most minute details along their path, over and over again. The best learning results from this kind of openness—from being fully awake to the experience at hand, receptive to gaining even tiny insights from it and to refining one’s method in response. An inner willingness to adopt the nonresistant approach of a beginner and gradually perfect one’s knowledge manifests outwardly as forward movement and, over time, as graceful expertise.
In Josh’s Words:
“I think a life of ambition is like existing on a balance beam. As a child, there is no fear, no sense for the danger of falling. The beam feels wide and stable, and natural playfulness allows for creative leaps and fast learning. You can run around doing somersaults and flips, always testing yourself with a love for discovery and new challenges. If you happen to fall off—no problem, you just get back on. But then, as you get older, you become more aware of the risk of injury….Plunging off would be humiliating….
A key component of high-level learning is cultivating a resilient awareness that is the older, conscious embodiment of a child’s playful obliviousness….This journey, from child back to child again, is at the very core of my understanding of success.”
Further reading: Chapter 8: Breaking Stallions
“When I watched my first Tai Chi class…the goal was not winning, but, simply, being…. Over the next few months, I learned the sixty basic movements of the meditative form. I was a beginner, a child learning to crawl, and the world began to lift off my shoulders…. A huge element of Tai Chi is releasing obstructions so the body and mind can flow smoothly together. If there is tension in one place, the mind stops there, and the fluidity is broken.”
Further reading: Chapter 9: Beginner’s Mind
From THE ART OF LEARNING by Josh Waitzkin. Copyright © 2007 by Josh Waitzkin LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc