Experience is the move. The move to a new understanding, a motion towards a richer perspective. We spend our lives chasing it, striving to open up new opportunities for it, while surrounding ourselves with those who have it. A simple thing shrouded in complexity, we go to great lengths and take risks to pursue it. Like water, we want to sit by it, live next to it, walk along it, sail across it, swim in it, drink it. Be it.
Many things contribute to quality of experience. Choices in friends, careers and habits are shaped by our interests and desires, which are likewise shaped by the friends, careers and habits we allow into our lives. The cycle is fascinating and seemingly both within our control and without it. Is that what makes it elusive yet still tangible? Do the most valuable qualities seem to work this way? Choice and fate at work at once? Simple bones wrapped in complex skin? Do those with vast experience generally take it for granted while others seeking any at all stand in awe of how others obtained it?
George Bernard Shaw said this about it:
Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
Trina Westerlund, a wise woman who mentored me many years ago, once shared her secret to gaining experience while ensuring its quality. Her words still resonate within me today:
Listen closely to the perspectives of someone who has not done something before. Their perspective is still fragile and open to influence. When we have experience, we tend to close our ears to amateurs, thinking we have a grasp of a skill or trade. Amateurs have an advantage in the potential of discovering things we missed along the way. Amateurs may in fact have much to teach us. Experience alone doesn’t optimize opportunities for innovation and discovery. Only openness to experience can.