I love the show, The Office.
It has been a favorite of mine on repeat for the better part of 10 years.
Michael Scott’s character is done perfectly.
Besides Ron Swanson, I don’t know if there is a better TV character.
One of my favorite scenes from the Office is when Oscar is attempting to explain what a surplus is to Michael. Michael was lost from the beginning.
“Why don’t you explain this to me like I’m an eight-year old.”
“Why don’t you explain this to me like I’m five.”
“Okay, break it down in terms of… um. Okay. I think I’m getting you…”
Clearly, it didn’t work.
To no fault of Michael, Oscar’s simplified explanations are still too complicated.
To no fault of Oscar, Michael is a hopeless case by about every measure.
This is no exception.
To be clear, this is not my idea.
Einstein once wrote, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I often find myself attempting to articulate seemingly obvious topics only to realize how veiled they still are to me. Even if it is something I have taken courses over or I am paid to know, there are familiar topics that frequently feel far too unfamiliar.
“The Nile is the longest river in Africa and the second in length of all the rivers of the globe. Although falling short of the length of the Mississippi-Missouri, the Nile is the head of all rivers as regards the lengths of its basin, which extends through 35 degrees of latitude.”
It seems like Tommy from Brave New World is an expert on all things the Nile River… until he is asked what the longest river in Africa was.
After being asked again and again what the longest river in Africa is, he begins sobbing because he does not know.
He only knows the longest river in Africa when prompted with, “The Nile is…” as he parrots what he has learned and recites the rest of the riff.
Imagine a society where students were taught to simply regurgitate facts.
Where they were unable to express their learning in their own words.
Teaching and learning is full of uhms, likes, I don’t knows, and errors.
This is all a part of working towards mastery.
This is what it looks and sounds like to attempt to make sense of things.
It is not cause for hitting the panic button if you cannot explain it simply.
Quite the opposite.
This is an ongoing invitation towards a fuller, deeper, wider understanding.
Sit with it.
Reflect on it.
Talk about it.
Accept and normalize the potentially awkward aspects of learning,
and strive ahead towards a deeper, broader understanding and appreciation of this brief but beautiful life.
The famous absurdist philosopher, Albert Camus, once wrote, “Beware of those who say: ‘I know this too well to be able to express it.’ For if they cannot do so, this is because they don’t know it or because out of laziness they stopped at the outer crust.”
We must beware of when WE do this.
We are always being invited towards a more complete, holistic understanding and appreciation of life.
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