Theoretical vs. The Real Deal: A Primer

It seems that whenever people learn something new from either a text, form of media, or observation, they expect it to benefit them some way at that current time, or at the very most in the near future.


After listening to the whole lecture of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, watching the whole how-to video on how to tie a tie, or reading some novel about how some kids stranded on an island start a fire with a pair of glasses, people expect that, because they’ve read it and endured the long process of “paying attention to” the content once, the subject matter instantly becomes easy to them. People expect an easy determination of both the speed and location of a subatomic particle, a smooth tying of a tie, and a roaring fireplace started from a pair of bifocals.

But they fail. Sometimes miserably.

Sure, you may have learned how to do something new, but the first time you actually try to do the action in question, you may have a rough start. This is why so many people give up before even accomplishing their goals. That’s why people quit before they even start and say, “When will we never need this anyway?”

Let me ask you this: Have you ever tried to light a fire with a lens at some point in your life? (Hopefully as a kid out of plain curiosity, and not as an arsonist.)


Well, I have, and I remember what happened vividly, mostly because it didn’t go according to the books.

I remember where I used to live as a child and grew up, it was a tight community. Any time we would want to play, my classmates and I would play in the streets of our neighborhood, mostly in this cul-de-sac behind this alleyway behind my house, or in the alleyway itself. At school, there was a computer lab, but all we wanted to do was either basketball, jump rope, hopscotch, talk, or help teachers. There were no smart phones, no Playstation 4, etc. The technology was only limited to school, and later, a bit of social media. Kids that didn’t have a computer or a printer in their house was a common thing (where I live now, in this location in time, everyone seems to have a computer, or at least a TV). Pretty much, we made our own fun.


So me and a group of my friends were near a wall that separated our school from a school next to ours. One of my friends had brought along a cheap plastic magnifying glass that you would find at a 99 Cents Store. We were digging in the dirt with our feet to make a little arena for a couple of ants that we had trapped beforehand, and we placed the ants in the arena, along with a couple of bees that were still alive, but barely. As we were watching the ants carry off the weak bees and devour them, someone remarked that it was a hot day, just like any other day in that area at the time.

That gave me an idea.

I told my friends that I had read somewhere that people could light fires with a lens of some sort. I, being the reader/official nerd of the group, explained to them the science behind the process, about light’s focusing on one spot to start a fire, but in a simpler mindset for them to understand.

They didn’t care. They just wanted to start it up. To be honest, I was a little afraid of the idea because I thought that a giant bonfire would result and burn a section of our playground. I went along though because I wanted to see if it actually worked.

So my friend held the magnifying glass over the dirt arena for the ants first. As we sat there, one of my friends complained that it was taking too long. I suggested lighting a piece of wood on fire and placing that into the pit. Someone procured a piece of bark, and we all sat there, eager to be the first to spot a flame.

We sat there for twenty minutes, the rest of the recess time. When the bell rang, we stayed out for a few more minutes. Finally, someone spotted a wisp of smoke, and a hint of burning wood spread through the air.

But that was it. It was a major disappointment. My friends and I walked into our class, dejected and downcast.

That’s what’s going to happen the first time you try something, unless if you’re really lucky or you’ve followed the directions really well. Don’t worry about it.

The things that books, media, or others teach you won’t be any use to you unless if you do three things, as stated directly from Master Mentor II:

1. Practice them over and over again out in the field. Then you’ll know exactly where to improve and how to do so.

2. Learn to apply these things to your everyday lives. Big whoop if you’ve learned what compound interest is in your math class, relate it to your life and your investments.

3. Teach the things you’ve learned to others. This will help you understand the subject better and, even better, offer a chance of someone correcting you if you’re wrong.

You will not learn only from books and observation. If someone tells you how to hunt a wild goose and roast it, you won’t be able to smoothly do it the first time. However, if you keep on trying and practice, you’ll succeed.

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You’ll only learn if you truly realize its value in the future and take a hands-on approach as soon as possible. Do it now.


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One response to “Theoretical vs. The Real Deal: A Primer

  1. Pingback: The Places I’ve Been To And The Places I’m At: Reflections | Oh how... UNcharming...·

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