Learn. Forget? Oops! Relearn. Forget? Oops! Repeat

ParcGuellWhen I arrived in Europe to join my daughter for vacation, she insisted that we visit Parc Guell in Barcelona to see the amazing stone sculpture of Antonio Gaudi, the museum that was his home for a while and the famous multi-colored undulating mosaic seating area created by Gaudi’s assistant Josep Jujol.

Even though she had lived in Spain for a few months, visiting this amazing attraction was still on her to-do list.

Determined to plan our trip as we went along rather than sign on to guided tours, my daughter insisted that we take the Metro. We were told that we’d have a 20 minute walk to get to the park once we arrived, but we were unprepared for the reality of that walk.

Baixada de la Gloria, the 200m street leading to the park, was so steep that it was almost vertical. As I gazed from the bottom to the endless shallow steps stretching upward, I was fast losing interest in seeing Gaudi’s masterpieces and the reported breathtaking view of Barcelona stretching to the sea.

But my daughter had bent my ear so much about this must-see wonder that I resolved that I was going to make that climb.  While I was making this decision, my daughter who is much younger and more fit than I am was losing heart.

“We don’t have to go to the Parc, if you don’t want to,” she said nervously. “I didn’t realize it would be this much of a climb.”

Much to her surprise, now I was the one insisting on seeing Parc Guell.

“No, we’re going. We will take just a few flights at a time. OK?”

She reluctantly agreed, and so we began our climb toward what I renamed Parc Gruel between huffs and puffs. Fortunately there were occasional landings where we could pause to rest before resuming our climb.

Whoever designed that street had a cruel sense of humor. When we almost at the top there were not one, but two escalator rides for the remaining short distance to the pinnacle.

Only after we finished our climb and made our way to Parc Guell did we learn that we were at the back entrance and could have gotten to the impressive front entrance without the steep climb if we had taken a cab or bus.

I relearned things I already knew.

  1. Do your research before you begin a journey.
  2. Even when you do your research, there will often be nuances of your journey you can only discover along the way.
  3. The things that don’t kill you will make you stronger.
  4. It seems that some things we can only learn the hard way.
  5. A long journey begins with one step.
  6. Big goals are achievable when chopped into manageable steps.
  7. The reward of achieving something very challenging is sheer exhiliration.
  8. If you don’t remember #1 and #2 don’t worry, life will give you as many lessons as you need.

First published January 9, 2009

Somebody Else's Experience is the Best Teacher: Lessons of 2009

p_013Experience is not the best teacher, unless it’s someone else’s. Here are some experiences had by others in 2009 and the lessons I hope you learned from them.

1. If you are a high profile celebrity who is stepping outside your marriage to have affairs with other women, do not leave voice mail messages to one of your lovers. Even if you don’t identify yourself by name, we recognize your voice. And, the temptation of your lover to turn that saved message over to the media for big bucks when she finds out she is just one of many is just too tempting to resist.

2. If you decide to stage a hoax involving your son in a hot air balloon publicity stunt, spend more time rehearsing what your son should say when questioned later by the media. Or decline any interviews (Oh, I forgot. The whole point was to get publicity.) You can’t expect a six year old to grasp the importance of misrepresenting the truth or realize that this “game” is punishable by jail time for his parents.

3. If you’ve just gotten a new high paying job don’t diss your new company on Twitter:

[The company in question] just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.

Tweets go out to anyone on Twitter, not just your followers. And, major companies are not only tech-savvy these days, but monitor social media to keep up with what’s being said about their brand.

4. If you are an Arizona video podcaster on vacation with your family, consider telling us about your vacation when you return rather than giving blow by blow details of your travels as you go. Burglars read tweets too, and after reading the following tweet may decide to relieve you of some of your possessions while you are away.

We made it to Kansas City in one piece. We’re visiting [wife’s] family. Can’t wait to get some good video while we’re here.

Modern technology is a wonderful tool, but when you use it to put your foot in mouth the result is swift and unretrievable.