Life is a Classroom
Given the amount of time I have spent in schools, given my obviously pro-educational bent, and given the fact that I've already told you that I belief life is for doing, learning, and enjoying -- it should come as no surprise to you that I tend to view the process of life itself as a classroom.
However, I do not mean one of those boring, sit-in-neat-narrow-rows-while-someone-drones-on-and-on-and-on-about-the-Louisiana-Purchase-or-binomial-fractions kind of classrooms. Life is much more experiential than that. Life is more of a workshop than a lecture hall.
This workshop/classroom/alternative learning space is perfectly arranged to teach you what you need to learn, when you need to learn it, in precisely the perfect way for you to learn it.
The most important word in the sentence above is the word need -- not want but need.
We don't always learn what we want to learn. When I was a sophomore in high school Biology, for example, there was only one animal's reproductive methods I wanted to learn about. Instead, I dissected a frog. My biology teacher ("Hi, Mrs. Pappas!") and I had two different lesson plans in mind.
This is how the classroom of life operates as well. You may want to learn the lesson called "How to Manage Your Recent Lottery Winnings", but life seems determined to teach you the lesson called "How to Pay Your Bills and Avoid Getting Your Car Repossessed".
These lessons from life come in all kinds of varieties. Sometimes you learn what you need to know in a formal way -- you take a class like "Financial Peace University" or you read a book like ScreamFree Parenting. Sometimes you learn through a more informal process -- you listen to a podcast or overhear a conversation in the elevator of your hotel. It could be an offhanded remark made by a friend, or a line from a movie.
For example, I recently took my daughters to see the movie THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. One of the characters tells another, "You don't need everyone to love you; just a few good people." I have been pondering that idea for nearly a week now, because I'm certain that is a lesson I need to learn.
I like to think there are no accidents, and I'm trying to learn how to pay closer attention to the random ways in which life is trying to teach me.
Positive lessons aren't always taught in positive ways. Having a flat tire -- which is hardly a positive experience -- can teach you any number of positive lessons. It can teach you to accept reality, to plan ahead, to be grateful for all the times you've not had a flat tire.
The same flat tire can teach you a number of depressing lessons. Life is not fair. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong -- probably at the worst possible time. These are valuable, if painful, lessons.
But are you beginning to notice the role you play in all of this? The classroom of life is not like your second grade classroom. The lesson plans aren't meticulously planned and tidy. No, in life you get to choose what you learn. Life is going to offer you plenty of material. You get to pick your lesson plan.
Everything can teach us something -- the uplifting and the downpushing. But it's up to us to become good students.