No, this is not a blog about the “theory of evolution”; I know better than to wade into that quagmire! This is simply about the process of evolution—the growth process that occurs when you are learning something new or improving on what you already know.

I have found—through my own frustrating educational experience anyway—that there is a tendency to resist that which we don’t understand; “how can that be true?” we ask. We seem to forget that learning something new—outside of our current bubble of understanding—was the reason we started the process of learning in the first place! Of course, you don’t understand it; that’s why you’re here! Get over it and move on; now is not the time to allow stubborn ignorance to rear its ugly head.

I’ve heard many times in workshops “but I don’t know anything about scales!” (or a myriad of other tough subjects). My natural answer is “good; you’re in the right place!” Yes of course, we should always be skeptical, but skepticism should be used as a tool of curiosity, not as an excuse for hanging on to our comfortable level of incompetence.  

We are led to believe in school that what you learn there is everything you will ever need to know. But, “I learned that back in Junior High” does not cut it in the real, adult world. The point of education should be that the journey is just beginning, ever-evolving, and never-ending; we would all live longer, more-interesting lives if we cultivated a mentality for lifelong learning.

“A smart person thinks he/she knows everything; a wise person knows he/she knows nothing”

The idea that we can change—evolve—is not universally-accepted, but it should be. I am constantly learning; sometimes it’s as much a process of un-learning bad habits as it is of learning new, good ones. There is a lot of time invested in learning big subjects like music; to realize you’ve been barking up the wrong tree can be frustrating, but I’ve gotten better at jettisoning the faulty logic to take correctional action. I’ve gotten over the embarrassment that comes with discovering that I was wrong all along; aren’t I smarter than that?

I say all this because of my current obsession to finally understand jazz improvisation (my greatest frustration); I have finally accepted that this is just not something that is going to “come naturally” for me! I have realized that for whatever reason (I guess I’m just not “worthy”), I must take the long road and learn it from a technical/knowledge angle instead of just “letting it happen.” Rather than wait any longer for inspiration to strike, I’m now taking the bull by the horns and maximizing my physical and mental skills; when my emotions finally catch up—and allow me to let go and let it happen—I plan to have something really good to let happen.

Someday I’ll be able to look back and realize how silly I had been all along; “can you believe that I thought I didn’t know how to do this at one time? Boy, have I evolved!”

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