The answer to a great many things

Matt at Ride A Wave, June 2003

Matt trains at Ride a Wave in Santa Cruz, California, June 2003
Each year, Olympic surfers and first responders provide free training
for people with special needs learning to surf and kayak.

“I have a feeling that in the end, probably, that training is the answer to a great many things. You can do a lot if you are properly trained, and I hope I have been.”
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom

With characteristic reserve, Queen Elizabeth II summed up her secret for handling the demands of her long career as she marked the 40th year of her reign.  As her biographer Sally Bedell Smith pointed out, “Her formal education was spotty by today’s standards. Women of her class and generation were typically schooled at home, with greater emphasis on the practical than the academic.”  Now, with the Queen having passed the 60-year anniversary of her reign, and seemingly destined to be the longest-ruling monarch in Britain’s history, it would appear that her practical education has served her well.

As Matt’s multiple learning disabilities were diagnosed one by one, we learned firsthand the invaluable role of training, as developmental milestones that happen naturally for most children had to be taught to Matt with patience, practice and repetition. It’s really no different for anyone; when it comes to becoming more adept at a skill, even the gifted must rely on hours of disciplined training and practice.

The good news is that training for competence is within the reach of anyone who longs to improve, and is willing to put in the time required.  Often, we will have to prioritize among many opportunities and focus on one, or just a few, to achieve mastery before moving on to other skills. But the opportunities for training, whether self-taught or with help, have never been as widely available and relatively affordable as they are now.

What would you like to get better at?  Do you know of any online learning opportunities you’d like to share?  Feel free to post links in the comments below.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Chris

    Good Monday morning!
    Truer words could not be spoken. Whether in our profession or in recreation, becoming skilled requires training. A simple concept.
    I hope you find time this week to practice / train at something that brings you joy and contentment! Have a great week!

    • Hi Chris, this week did give me a chance to engage in many of the things I enjoy most– written correspondence via postal mail, crafts, yard work (but not too much) and walking outside in weather that had turned delightfully cooler. Can fall be far behind? I’m still “training” to be a morning person, but I’m getting there and enjoying every step. Hope you had a nice week as well.

      • Chris

        I did, thanks! While we’ve had a week of lesser temperatures, it’s still summer, and plenty hot. Can’t do much outside, but my wife has her crafts, and indoor activities were plentiful. 😊
        I’ve always been a morning person since my Army days, but in the last several years, I’m not so much. In the “old” days, I rarely slept past 5am. Nowadays, I get started closer to 6:30, and later on the weekends. It’s interesting how routines change.
        Well, my “training” for hurricanes is about to be tested again, maybe. Marco and Laura are heading toward the gulf coast. The current track puts them west of us, but we remain vigilant. Have a blessed day, Julia!

        • Hi Chris! WOW, I’m late getting to this. My sister was here visiting for a week so I got behind on everything. I hope you survived the hurricanes with minimal disruption. I heard some areas were without power and water for extended periods. Not the devastating destruction we so fear, but still very hard to live with when it hits. Jeff too used to wake up at about 5 a.m. every day. In all our years together I think the alarm clock had to wake him fewer than a dozen times. He always said that if the alarm clock had to wake you, you were not getting enough sleep. 😀 His treatment of a 10:30 bedtime as a sacrosanct rule was beneficial to me over the years, so perhaps now I’m channeling his influence. Like your wife, I can stay happy with my crafts and other indoor pastimes even when weather keeps me away from the garden, but I’ll be glad to get back out there as things cool down. Happy September!

  2. Mike

    I have to get certified every year now on CPR and AED. Even if i never use these skills or only have to one time in a life It would be worth it. I know some football teams have a saying– Seahawks- ” The separation is in the preparation.”
    I went to pay homage to a soldier at the Marietta Confederate cemetery and it was locked up tighter than a max security prison.
    BTW- have you read any of Ambrose Bierce? I am reading “Civil War stories.” I did not know he was at Kennestone mountain battle and also Chickamauga, and also Resaca i believe.His moniker was Bitter Bierce. He had 12 sibling all names with names that start with an A.

    • I think surviving Chickamauga, with a casualty count second only to Gettysburg (to say nothing of the other battles Bierce endured), would be enough to make one bitter for whatever time one had left on this earth. Perhaps because I attended school in the Atlanta area (beginning less than 100 years after it was burned to the ground), we were assigned to read “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” in 8th or 9th grade. It’s a story I would recommend to anyone. I don’t remember the details, but it was powerful.

      I had a dear friend whose first name was Ambrose, and it was he who introduced me to Jeff.

  3. mike c.

    It is 90 today in Woodstock. Does not seem like fall -much. The tomatoes are about finished.

    • Well, technically it’s not fall until September 22, but it’s usually cool much sooner than that, at least in Virginia. Georgia takes a bit longer. Today was HOT (95) but tomorrow will be much cooler and judging by the waning of daylight hours– I am now waking up before dawn despite sleeping a bit later than I did in midsummer– the autumn is at hand. I always do hate to see tomato season end, though. I bought some garden tomatoes at the Yorktown Market Days on the river last Saturday, and they were SOOOOO delicious!

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