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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 10 October 2015


A couple of weeks ago our 40th High School reunion took place in Johannesburg at a St Stithians College which is virtually unrecognisable from that which I left so long ago. I have to say that a number of my old classmates (I guess I have to include myself in that grouping) were also not terribly recognisable, but somehow or other for the most part we could still connect and see the essence of the people we were in the 1970's.

Despite having learnt at school all about the reproductive cycle of the schistosoma haematobium, Virgil's Aeneid (in Latin), good stuff in algebra and geometry which I have never used, the adventures of an Afrikaans man called Bart Nel and the woes of Hamlet, it came to me quite clearly on Friday how little I actually learnt at school and how much we get from the informal lessons which Life has to offer.

Some of the things that I was never taught, but have nonetheless had to teach myself as best I could include:
  • How to fall in love, stay in love and be lovable
  • How to keep contributing to a relationship to ensure it survives and thrives
  • How to stay committed to a relationship when it's going through tough times
  • How to deal with disasters when the Life I think I know starts crumbling around me
  • How to set boundaries and be firm with others without being unkind
  • How to persevere against the odds
  • How to deal with resentment
  • How to engage at a heart (rather than head) level with others
  • How to bring up children to be the best they can be when they go out into the world
  • How to be no more nor less than I am, but just to be my authentic self
  • How to find Life's gifts which are so well hidden in times of adversity
  • How to access my creative self when a part of me is encouraging me to dumb down and just do what I've always done
  • How not to run away from trouble 
Oh yes, and how to read a balance sheet!

And so much more. School sets some solid foundations, and for those I am grateful. However, quite frankly, with the exception of the balance sheet, the school system couldn't teach most of the above, even if it wanted to.  Ultimately our greatest learning experience is derived from the lives we each live and all of Life's deliveries, whether or not we ask for, want or like them and how we choose to deal with them.

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