Other people’s lessons



Other people’s lessons


When we were kids, my brothers and I did stupid things. I think that’s the nature of childhood. Somehow we survived it.

One example: We had a ladder up to the haymow in our barn. My father put a loft on the other side of the barn, but there was no way up to it yet, so we decided we’d crawl across on three long pieces of wood that had been put up between the beams for some reason. They looked like trunks of skinny trees with the bark knocked off, maybe three inches in diameter. My oldest brother went first as we held the wood together at one end. Since he didn’t die, I crawled across next, with a brother on either side holding the ends. Then my other brother crawled across.

Not all of our adventures ended so well. We accidentally dropped my middle brother off a roof when we were “sledding” one winter. He had a pretty bad bruise, but was otherwise unbroken. Probably didn’t trust us quite so much, though, after that.

I am the youngest in my family. I’m a cautious person by nature. I pay attention to what’s going on around me (probably because I’m busy looking for the worst-case scenario). All of this adds up to me learning a lot from other people, whether they mean me to learn those lessons or not.

If my brothers tried it and it worked, I’d give it a go. If not, I knew better, whether it was climbing a tree or testing our parents’ patience. I saw what various behaviors at school brought to the person exhibiting them and knew what was and wasn’t acceptable. Riding mass transit for the first time in a foreign country, I stood back and then did whatever the person in front of me did. Even in my job, librarians are always sharing programming ideas that did and didn’t work.

So, maybe I’m not going to be the first person through the gate for something new, but I’m okay with that. I’ll be watching, though, and seeing how it goes for you. Learning other people’s lessons is a much less painful means of education.

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