Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

Lessons from Literature Part 1

Years and years ago I enjoyed the company of some good friends who had developed the habit of giving gifts of words - that is, sharing the writings of others gleaned through an eclectic and reverent approach to reading - rather than giving gifts of things.  Indeed, entire books might be "given", but such occurrences as often included reading these works out loud. 
In my case, thanks to the realities of Canadian geography and necessities of work, this sharing was done via old fashioned hand written letters.  Invariably there would be some quote, or poem or snippet of something said so perfectly . . . I still have many of the quotes and references, if not the letters. Most are tucked away in journals or sketch books, revealing their wisdom through the accidental: what is in that box? 
But one poem by Emily Dickinson has always been hung visibly in what ever space I've inhabited
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
This poem, like so many of Emily Dickinson's works, was published posthumously.  I'd love to be able to reach back into history to ask how this poem came about: was there an inspiring incident? a culmination of observations? or just playing with words?
Of course, such an endeavour is, on the one hand impossible, and on the other hand immaterial, to the power of this poem.  Dickinson shows keen insight into both Truth and human frailty i.e. Children.  Truth must be valued for what it is: a sharp edge capable of carving out something both fascinating and terrifying at the same time.  It stakes out that territory where even relativism and constructivist notions must bow down.

Just 8 simple lines, written over a century ago, and they'd be perfectly at home as a syllabus for a PR course today!  

One of the things I've come to like about blogs, twitter and FB is the sharing of quotes and insights (or misquotes, as in this recent case) by friends - you never know where insights and ahas will be found.  I like to think that my fundamental job, as a living thinking breathing human being is to be a  sponge: to soak up as much as I can with all this knowledge floating around.
There are lessons to be learned every where we go, every day, and that's Truth enough for me.

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