Seeing something bad happen and me learning a lesson was never a part of my destiny. In fact I can safely hazard a guess that most people are like me. We love watching, tut-tutting, discussing the importance of doing things the right way… and then going ahead and doing the same thing that had got someone in trouble. What happened on the highway is still fresh in my mind, you see.
Asleep while driving
I must have watched tens of videos where the driver who fell asleep while driving met with an accident. After each of these videos I told myself, ‘Good that I have watched this one. I never knew things could get so horribly wrong and mangled with just one sleepy nod.’ And then on a late evening drive from Delhi to Chandigarh we came across a couple of nice expensive-looking cars with either the front or the back completely smashed and being towed away to the next nearest town. No, we didn’t slow down nor stop at the accident sites because the nervously rushing paramedical staff told us the whole story anyway. If you’re a high-risk driver, you need to Get SR22 Insurance You Can Trust and Afford.
On the way back we got later than usual and instead of a late evening, it was a late night drive.
‘You’ve got a cold and are on anti-histamines,’ said Specky, ‘so drive carefully.’
‘I smiled, ‘Night drives are cooler. Just a few trucks and they anyway travel in self-imposed convoys. But yes, I’ll be careful while overtaking as these truckers have become rather reckless as compared to the years gone by.’
So we started well and then around half-way the effect of the anti-allergic tablet, the fast speed, and the occasional blast of headlights from the opposite side combined in some deadly way and my eyelids gently closed with the brain registering no panic. My head struck the steering wheel, the nerves picked this up and a fast action ordered. I jerked back and with my eyes wide open looked at Specky, and said, ‘Keep talking.’
‘Keep talking?’ she repeated as if she too had gone off to sleep momentarily.
The next time this happened, we were perilously close to a truck and I swerved sharply to my right and zipped ahead. The car just behind me braked hard to avoid colliding into me… and the moment of chaos passed without any harm done except for a bit of angry honking by everyone around me.
The lessons had not been learnt. All the video-watching and all the discussions on safe driving lay slumbering somewhere. All that mattered was getting caught asleep by time and being thrashed thoroughly right there. The rest of the drive went by without this being repeated.
I am convinced that the only lessons that stay are the ones that we learn as we do something and stumble or fumble. The rest of the schooling of fanciful learning stays firm somewhere in the mind celebrating its importance and partying every time it sees us get up and move on after a stumble.
Who is a smart learner?
The truth is that I have apps on my tech-smart mobile that are supposed to be guiding me to be physically fit. Other apps are teaching me the tenets of good writing, great etiquette in public, charming fashion sense, fast reading and so on… but the fact is that I go for my morning walk only occasionally, write on topics that catch my fancy, miss deadlines, have a rather opinionated behavior in public, and remain unbothered about the protocols of fashion. None of those smart lessons are of any use to me. I am definitely not the sort of smart learner that the term wants us to visualize.
For me the real learning is through the sorrow on having missed not just a deadline but the chance, for instance, to win a big prize. The learning comes when I force wake up early in the morning for a walk every day for a few weeks and then notice that I need a belt with my denim jeans. I learn when the hovering deadline makes it essential for me to sit down and read fast because I need some researched information fast.
Learning is a funny thing and happens only one is in a jam. This is probably the smartest thing learning has ever invested in… it waits for the right time and pops its head up and sniggers when one gets a tight slap from a sticky situation. Smart learning and smarting with pain are great friends. Simulators and smart games, smart reading, smart debates, smart TV watching, smart this and smart that are contemporary buzzwords that can probably bring on a temporary form of awareness about vital issues… but a real understanding and the resolve to go the right way happens when you have tasted shit, so to say, and have learned your lesson the hard way.
To put everything in a single sentence, the smartest way to learn swimming is to jump into the deep-end of the pool with instructors waiting to pull you out. So jump into the pool, dammit!
05 October 2018