The Courage to Unlearn

Whenever I’ve flown across the ocean, there’s a moment when I’ve looked down and only seen water. It’s a different feeling, knowing that there is no land for miles and miles. IMG_5455I’ve never taken a long boat ride or a cruise, but I wonder what that feeling of losing sight of the land is like? Knowing that one is truly out to sea?

I am at my best when I am learning new things. When I remember that my life experience and outlook are limited and that I need to dig in and listen to more stories, I feel alive and active.

This week has been incredibly busy but incredibly filling. From discussions that are shifting my view of the narrative arc I’ve always had of the Bible to learning about next steps in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; from Voxing about books and travel and cultures to teaching English language learners the meaning of Small Talk, this week has been filled with a lot of conversations and perspectives that are giving me pause and creating a shift in my thinking.

I’m reminded of the Andre Gide quote,

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.

Andre Gide, The Counterfeiters

In so much of my thinking and perspective, I love taking small day-trip sails out into new waters but I usually keep the shoreline in sight. I find security in being tethered to what I already know and perceive.

What I’m learning is the importance of going out farther, deeper, without the safety of the shore. That takes courage and a good, knowledgeable guide but I’m feeling more and more ready to take what I’m learning to some new levels. When I do this, my outlook is kinder and more empathetic. It’s certainly uncomfortable, unlearning and relearning, but I think this path of discovery is worth that.

What’s something you’ve had to unlearn recently? How do you balance growth and discovery?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “discover.”

BackyardThis post is Day 20 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

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13 thoughts on “The Courage to Unlearn

  1. Fear of speaking in conferences and meetings or around people I am not well acquainted with. I have a fear that the fraud I am will be uncovered. I doubt myself and my abilities to communicate thoughtfully. In this area I keep myself tethered to the dock. I have had to force myself out into the open water. Love the analogy. And you have encouraged me to step out. Even if only in this medium. Today I posted my first FMF post. For that I am thankful. You are appreciated.

    Be well

    1. Oh, this resonates with me…. I often feel unqualified and question why I’m participating in certain conversations. I’m learning to be more confident and recognize my voice matters, even if it isn’t expert.

  2. Having the courage to unlearn and to relearn things. Love it! I’m definitely one who sticks close to the shoreline by default but you have shown me in this post the necessity of sailing out into deeper waters as well. Thanks! Your FMF neighbor #46

  3. Your title got me. I think it does take courage to unlearn. It’s so uncomfortable sometimes, I also keyed in on your description of a “good, knowledgeable guide”. Our tour in Israel a few years ago was met without fears of being in far from home and in a different culture because we had that guide. Also, a fitting description for Jesus.

    1. Yes! I wanted to talk about that, too!! (There are a ton of layers to this quote…) We just can’t do it without a guide, especially at the beginning. Something I learned in Hawaii is that even the most expert swimmers and surfers rely on lifeguards and people to watch them. Hmmm. I may need to expand on these thoughts…

  4. Annie, I love your thoughts here. Those times when I’m learning something new are exhilarating. But, like you, I like to stay tethered. when we’re tethered to something—be it an idea, or a place—we sometimes miss out on the opportunities to trust and learn new things. It’s a little scary to not be moored to the land, but I guess as we see new things, new waters, we find a different kind of joy and depth. I hope this makes sense. 🙂

    1. Right? And, as Debby said (and I ran out of time to say!) going into open water requires a guide…. I’m remembering that being untethered is scary and unknown but Jesus is there, guiding me along.

  5. Oh, Annie, I have had to unlearn so much…but the most important thing is that I am not valued by what I do…rather, by how and why I do it.

    Your post reminded me of Thor Heyerdahl’s wonderful book, ‘Kon-Tiki’, about the trip he and some of his buds took across the southeastern Pacific, from South America to Polynesia…on a balsa-wood raft in 1947.

    They were all quite mad, and I think that is why they survived. (He wanted to prove an anthropological theory that Polynesia was populated from the east, by marine migration…he proved that it was possible indeed, but later research and DNA testing conclusively showed that Polynesia was populated from the northwest, from Asia.)

    1. A friend lent me “Kon-Tiki” this summer and I just haven’t read it yet…. Moving it up!! (Behind allll my library books…!!) Also, I love reframing your value to the how and why rather than the what. So important to remember!

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