From the moment we take our first breath, we are thrust into a world of learning. Our parents tell us what’s good to touch; watching our every move with love and care, so we don’t come to harm. They pass on their feelings, beliefs, rules, and behaviors, and we rely on them to provide the expertise to navigate through the strange place we have found ourselves. We believe what we are told… because we don’t have enough information to consider other answers.
When we arrive at school new experts instruct in other areas we know nothing about. There are mathematical problems to solve, languages to learn, history to understand, and…of course…a new set of rules to follow. We believe what we are told…most of the time, because we don’t have enough information to consider other answers.
Finishing school, there are decisions to make. Onwards, to University, learn a trade, or start work. Wherever we go, there are voices telling us more about our subject, profession, and expectations. We believe what we are told…some of the time, because we have assimilated information and started to consider other answers. In time, we find our place, or at least, a place in the world. Opinions we’ve had along; shaped by our many encounters, take hold and feel right. We stop seeing experts as much, because we don’t have to, but they do appear when we need them. At the doctor’s office when we are sick, or when the car breaks down.
They don’t always come out and say they are experts, and although Franklin Roosevelt said, “there are as many opinions as there are experts,” we consciously and sometimes, subconsciously, decide who to listen to and why. Position, education, practice, trust, and previous experience all play their part in and we may believe they found their path through talent, hard work, insight, and maybe, a little luck.
Our lives move on, and we may already have a sense if we consider ourselves an expert in something or whether we are a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none.’ There comes a time when the outward focus on life, work, family, and career, turn in a new direction. It’s this inward glance that opens a creaking door to a sleeping mystery, bringing a desire to be alone in a place, lacking the teaching voices or rules, imposed. Nature summons us to her court of non-judgmental beauty, where thoughts find meaning and the quiet speaks until we listen.
Through the park and heading towards the water’s edge, is a sign (see picture) about one of history’s undisputed experts—Albert Einstein. It says, from 1922, he rented a small summer cottage on an allotment nearby, and if I look very hard…I see him outside, puffing on his pipe and doodling theories in a notebook on a sunny day. I wonder if he were still sitting there, would I have the courage to approach? With my little understanding of mathematical formulas or theoretical Physics, I imagine there would be little to discuss.
Looking at the photograph, I hear him speak. The ray of sunshine I hadn’t noticed taking the picture, illuminates his eyes, as though to say, ‘I found the path before my contemporaries, because they held onto beliefs and rules others had taught, and I didn’t.’ Life is not about clinging onto old ideas that either we or experts have pronounced as truths, but seeing with fresh eyes when the light illuminates our hearts and minds.
Einstein found the key to the problem of relativity using time, and as I examine my journey time, it’s just possible I have believed too much what others told me…and the story I told myself…because I was taught to follow the rules and listen to the experts. It’s there, in those early years, I remember…no one taught me how to walk or eat. It’s there, in the young years, I remember…no one taught me how to smile and laugh. It’s there, in the growing years, I remember…no one taught me how to cry and dream.
And if we came with this knowledge, we have to consider that other gifts were imparted to us for this journey we take. Faith, hope, trust, love, and so much more, to carry us home again. For although we may sometimes seek the counsel of others, it’s not to get their answer, but to help us discover our own, that dwells within. For others see us in pieces and not the whole. They may see the shadow and not the soul. They make up their minds of who we are, but they don’t have enough information to truly understand. For although we may be alike, in each breath we take; our thoughts, feelings, and emotions combine in uniqueness, and I realize that each of us is an expert after all…on ourselves.
Like Einstein, our answers are found in time, and the journey truly begins when the outward focus no longer satisfies and we take the path inside. It’s our relativity we seek. To realize, we truly have all the information we need to find our answers and doodling in our notebooks on a summer’s day…to recognize our expertise and let it be our guide.