It has been my observation that people hate change. You get comfortable doing things one way and when you are faced with the prospect of doing something differently, you are usually very resistent. The new way is unfamiliar and scary. The old way is familiar and 'safe'. This is true of everyone, myself included. It's human nature. There are times, however, when change is necessary and important. I'm finding as time passes, that change, while hard at first, usually has a great benefit at the end.
Take learning something new for example. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I'm trying to learn to play the guitar. This is not an easy undertaking for me. I've never played a musical instrument before. My life has always centered around the 'logical' things (namely computers). Trying to switch gears to something very creative is difficult. When I was first starting, and to a certain degree even now, I often feel very overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to learn on the guitar. You have to learn the proper placement of your fingers so that you can cleanly play the note without interfering with the other strings, you have to learn how to read music, you have to memorize the locations of each of the notes on the neck of the guitar (dozens of them), you have to learn such things as chords (playing multiple notes at the same time), techniques like alternate picking, what the different dials on the amp do, etc. It's a lot to learn. At first I was in a kind of mini-panic thinking "My God, there is so much I need to know! How am I ever going to learn this stuff?" The only way I've survived this effort and managed to continue it is to just force myself to tackle it in small 'bites'.
First I learn a couple of notes on 1 string. I spend a couple of weeks doing that over and over and over again. Eventually, without me even realizing it, it all sinks into my head and becomes something I do almost without thinking. I then tackle the second string and do the same thing. Then the third string and fourth, and fifth and sixth strings. Once I've gotten that far, I can honestly say that I think I've mastered at least single notes on all strings. It's taken me several months, and I've only progressed as far as the first 2 strings. I think I've got those down pretty well, and I'm working on the third string. I'm making progress there but I haven't mastered it yet. There is still that uncomfortable pause when I switch to that string. I go from 'running on automatic' on the first 2 strings, to really having to think where I place my fingers on that third string. I'm getting better, but I'm not there yet. My parents have asked on several occaisions to hear me play something on the guitar. I don't feel I'm ready for that yet. I still find myself rather embarrassed to make any attempt to play in public, since my skills are still so lacking. I envy the people I hear playing in the guitar store, with such apparent ease. I know that with time, that will come, but it won't happen overnight. I must be patient.
It is human nature to want the 'quick fix'. You want to be able to instantly learn something without having to put the time into working towards it. This is true of guitars, this is true of computers, and this is true of getting in shape. You won't master it overnight, but with patience you will master it. The secret is to not panic and to break it down into 'bite-size' chunks that you can 'digest' quickly. Don't try to swallow everything at once or you will 'choke'. Remain calm and remain patience. Progress will come, given time. Above all though, you must practice what you are learning! Reading a book isn't going to teach you something. It might get you started down the path, but the information won't really 'sink in' unless you do it! If you are learning guitar, you must play the guitar. If you are learning computers, you must USE the computer. Try out everything the book tells you. Don't just read the book. Don't be afraid of change! Enjoy it! I find it fun to learn new things. There is a world of interesting things out there to learn.