i've spent the last few days helping my mother bring my father home from the hospital where he had been for he past two months after his last heart attack. in addition to the physical problems caused by the heart attack and then two months of relative inactivity, he's coping with near blindness caused by his lifelong diabetes.
i've never truly comprehended exactly how much we depend upon the perceptions we know and use on a minute by minute basis. balance, direction, perspective, and distance are all concepts which don't mean much to him without the visual cues he's depended upon all of his life. the home he's lived in for almost 40 years is alien and confusing to him.
he even has some skills that many people in his situation don't have. he's been a craftsman all his life so his sense of touch is highly developed and meaningful. when he's not exhausted or frustrated, he can think through structural framework of the hallway or bathroom or other rooms. but it's a total relearning project no matter how you look at it.
for my mom and me, we've admitted to each other that trying to describe even the simplist task is mindrattling. i've told him to reach left, when i meant right so many times i'm ready to give up. thank goodness such miscues haven't lead to anything dramatically bad happening. my mind screams "damn it! it's right there, grab it!" when I can't think of the right words to direct his stabs in his new darkness.
his motivation is generally positive, but it flags. i know he'll be alright in after a few frustrating months, but to see the learning, or relearning, process up close and personal is taxing. what we depend on as stable, may not be so stable. change is inevitable, but when we are confronted with things we don't want to or don't expect to change changing, learning is all we can do.
one insight i've come to is that while we are learning creatures by our nature and learning can bring us the greatest delights we'll experience in our lives, that is the case only when we are guiding our learning - building our competencies in a direction we have planned. when learning is imposed upon us by external events (or, i suppose, external agents like companies, school systems, etc.) we don't care for the work as much. learning in any case is hard work. may you be learning today what you're self-motivated to learn.