Episode 146 - So Right, It Feels Wrong
The Thursday Thesis – 11/4/2019
Her eyes narrowed and she seemed to twist bodily on her stool, just to give my diagram a sideways look.
After twenty years of teaching guitar, I’ve grown to know that look and the body language that goes with it.
I recognise the uneasy brow and the needling eye...
I feel suspicion daggering at me...
They’re waiting for the other boot to fall; for the dreaded “but” that snatches away what they want most of all.
And they’re deeply weirded-out by the whole thing.
It’s my own fault, naturally.
Ah, if I’d only been content to let her continue to believe in the Unicorn of Cleverness...
But that’s not how I roll.
I knew the signs and the symptoms, because I’ve had them myself - over and over again as I studied with great teachers, read hundreds of books, trained with experts and blended what I’d learned.
It’s a sudden insight, a moment of clarity: where one glimpses the elusive obvious and gasps.
It’s when the problem we’ve been wrestling with finally shrugs its shoulders, stops playing hard to get and solves itself before our very eyes.
That’s when the new problem begins...
After years of struggle - sometimes decades of confusion – everything makes perfect sense. We can see it, we know it works and we know why it works.
Everything makes sense, at last, and we hate it.
We squirm uneasily and tell ourselves that we must have made a mistake.
“That can’t be right...” we say, as we look for the pitfall.
It’s known as “Cognitive Dissonance” in psychological circles: the uncomfortable feeling a person has when facts contradict that person’s beliefs.
In an unexpected moment of clarity and insight, everything we thought we knew is called into question and dragged kicking and screaming into the bright light of critical thought.
For this particular new student – let’s call her Sonia - Cognitive Dissonance was playing an absolute blinder.
Confronted by a reality that was a radically different from – perhaps even diametrically opposed to – what she thought it should be, Sonia was not a happy chicken: this was not how it was supposed to be, surely...this was too easy, wasn’t it?
And here’s the thing: if we set out in the belief that something is difficult and hard to learn, or that it is joyless and boring, then our tiny, pea-sized brains will fight like demons to prove us right – even though that will thwart us in our endeavours.
So maybe we should ask ourselves the question “do I want to learn quickly and easily, or do I want to be right?”
It’s up to you...
© Neil Cowmeadow 2019
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