Will Rogers has a quote that is as insightful as it is humorous. “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
The word voraciously can be applied to describe my reading habits; however, I am not sure I learn anything more than various little facts that impress people at cocktail parties. Do I learn best by reading, watching, or doing?
When we lived in Iceland, I spent a couple weeks at a camp where I learned to ride in the proper English style. The experience retains a place inside me of profound adventure and excitement. One of the best parts of my youth.
So in 1983, we come back to visit some of my father’s family in Kentucky. When I went out front, I saw that there were some horses in a corral across the highway from my Uncle Frank’s and Aunt Reva’s place. What did I do? Wandered down and crossed the road—I needed to see these horses because they were a bit taller than the Icelandic horses.
When I got up to the pen, I noticed that a single wire kept the horses penned in their enclosure. I thought to myself, “Now who would try to keep horses in with a tiny little wire?” So, I grabbed it.
From out of nowhere, someone hit me with a baseball bat. I stepped back and looked around. Nothing. I shrugged and grabbed the wire again. And again someone dropped a ton of bricks on my 11-year-old person. But I was bound and determined to get into the pen. The bricks kept on pounding me.
It took me a while, but I eventually learned that I needed to let go of the wire. Maybe my parents didn’t raise a genius. After I meandered back up to the house and told everyone about the assault I had just experienced, my father shook with laughter. He looked at me and said, “Good thing you didn’t pee on it.”
Maybe I should try learning using more of the other two methods…
WHAT I’M UP TO
NONFICTION: Started reading through Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962 by Yang Jisheng. A fascinating treatise on the famines caused by a combination of social pressure, economic mismanagement, radical agricultural changes in regulations imposed by the government, and also by natural disasters.
TELEVISION: Completed the second season of Mindhunter on NetFlix. The first season covered the creation of the FBIs Behavioral Science Unit to help track down and stop serial killers. The second season saw the involvement of the BSU in tracking down and stopping the perpetrator of the Atlanta child murders from 1979-1981. Not as strong as the first season, but not far off. The actor that portrays serial killer Ed Kemper is spooky.