slow learner

by Kristen

I am a slow learner. A forgetful learner. A partial learner. A re-learner.

I find words I’ve written—pen strokes made with my very own hand—stating a lesson learned . . . but too often it’s one I find I’ve unlearned in the intervening minutes and days and years.

So I learn again. I read the words. I remember the impact of the realization. And I pray I might internalize a fraction more of what seemed impossible to forget the first time. I press into the practice of re-learning.

I’m a good student. Given a concept packaged with a syllabi and homework and tests I will demonstrate mastery. But I’m not a good learner. Slip the lesson into life, and I will make a mental note . . . and minimal application. As oil and water separate, new lessons and old habits kiss and part ways.

I need repetition: the same truth encountered in lesson . . . after lesson . . . after lesson. A constant stirring and blending of known and new.

The rhythm of practice builds my memory. I fielded ground balls over and over during softball drills to make the play routine in the middle of the game. I ran through scales over and over in band to hit the notes in the show. But in life the minutes of the day cannot be parsed into practice and performance. Each moment is learning and re-learning, practicing and executing.

And with the extension of grace to my forgetful self I see fragile growth. Muscle memory develops beyond the physical and spreads to the mental and spiritual. I am learning . . . slowly . . . with hiccups and hesitations and unexpected gains.

I record the lessons in their various iterations—slightly rephrased as new facets flash in the light of re-learning—grateful for each lesson learned that finds its way into the regular routine of the day.


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