It’s complicated . . . and all the better for it

I’m struck yet again by what seems to be a unifying theme running through what I thought were disparate areas of my life. Once upon a time, I’d have told you that streamlining and simplifying things to focus on one concept at a time was a good idea, but these days, I’m seriously into complexity.

  • Nutritionally, it’s better to eat a variety of real (that is, fresh) food than to rely on multivitamins and other supplements.
  • Sure, there are all those high-tech exercise machines that isolate specific muscles, but if I want a challenging workout, point me toward the free weights or the balance balls or the yoga mat. Complex exercises work not only the body but the brain, and are interesting enough to keep me coming back for more.
  • Learning by doing almost always seems to work better than learning by rote. No matter how carefully I read a software user manual, I never learn as much about how to use the application as when I simply sit down and start using it by trial and error (and only occasional recourse to the manual as reference).

I’ve thought for years now that starting with the basics is not always the best idea. Sometimes jumping into the midst of something (fencing or teaching, for example) to get a good taste can tell you what you still need to learn, and let you focus better on learning it.

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