Experience is the move. It’s the move to a new understanding, an action, a motion that moves us closer to a broader perspective. We spend our lives chasing it, taking risks to open up new opportunities for it, while trying to make choices that surround us with those who have it.
It’s such a simple thing yet shrouded in such great complexity: we go to great lengths to embellish it, put much at stake just to pursue it, and acquire it without even realizing it.
Like water, we want to sit by it, live next to it, walk along it, sail across it, swim in it, drink it. Be it.
Many things contribute to quality of experience. Choices in friends, careers and habits are shaped by interests and desires, which are likewise shaped by the friends, careers and habits, the capacities of those around us.
The cycle is fascinating and seemingly both within our control and so far outside of it, which is what makes it elusive yet still tangible. Do the most valuable qualities seem to work this way? Choice and fate at work at once? Simple bones wrapped in complex skin? Do those with vast experience generally take it for granted while others seeking any at all stand in awe of how anyone could have possibly obtained it?
Fascinating, this idea. Experience.
I love to cook with my little boy because he is not at all afraid to make mistakes, riff, and think out loud about what he’s doing. Doing things with him are selfishly valuable exercises, introspective revisitations, mental inventories of what it is I think I know, anyway, how I learned it, what’s worth sharing, and almost regularly gaining new perspectives on the simplest but crucially important yet seemingly old ideas and what I missed along the way.
George Bernard Shaw said this about experience:
Men are wise in proportion not to their experience, but to their capacity for it.
A wise woman who mentored me early in my adult life often shared her secret to gaining experience while ensuring its quality:
Listen closely to the perspectives of someone who hasn’t done something before. Their perspective is still fragile and open to influence. When we have experience, we tend to close our ears to amateurs, thinking we have a grasp of a skill or trade. Amateurs have an advantage in the potential of possibility and discovering things we missed along the way. Amateurs have much to teach us. Experience alone doesn’t optimize opportunities for innovation and discovery. Only openness to experience can.