← Back to home

No shame in easy explanations

I have this ingrained belief that every thing and experience can be good (real, worthy, deep, of a high quality) and cheap. As an example, take a thermos, or a cover of a song. There are real thermoses that feel like a high quality thing when you hold it in your hand (it’s heavy, it feels robust, the quality of production is great, it’s meant to serve for many years), and there are cheap ones that are planned to be replaced within a short time. There are great covers for which an artist has added their personal touch, rehearsed a lot, and shows their best skills, versus a fellow that is not interested in growing as a musician.

So I’ve been applying for a long time the same approach to learning. Want to learn calculus? Take the foundational century-old five-volume work of a great mathematician, force-feed its dry formal explanations into your conscience, and try to pretend like you’re smart enough to understand. Want to learn programming? Start with Stroustrup, then to The Gang of Four, and perhaps proceed with “The Art of Computer Programming.”

I would try, and try, and try, and shame myself for falling asleep in trying to detangle unfamiliar abstractions from these smart books. What I’ve figured out, is that I wasn’t driven by the desire to learn a subject. Instead, it was my inner pride of “I’m smart and I can do it” motives, plus the fear of being judged by others of not knowing a subject for reals (appearing like that cheap thermos), that were driving me to go to these sources.

So I gave up on thinking that I’m good enough, and these days I don’t shy to learn from a teenager using nyan cat examples in her YouTube video tutorials. It turns out others don’t care about me, and I am learning new things.

Last edited on Apr 12, 2019