One of my mentors once said to me, Jane, people don’t need more information, they need more experiences.
She was referring to the movement work I teach; how the benefit, the transformation is in the doing of the work, not the knowing of the work.
This is a challenge that I’m presented with frequently; providing enough information to satisfy hungry and curious minds balanced with enough encouragement to dive in and do the work.
I believe this to be true of horsemanship in all its manifestations also. That we have to take care not to become theory heavy and experience poor, and beyond that, use ‘the need to know more’ as a way to avoid taking action.
The ‘need to know’ pattern is the favourite of those of us who love to intellectualize our way through situations. It can prevent us from committing to a decision or practice before we feel like we ‘know everything we need to know’ and be used as a procrastination technique to get started on something that perhaps takes us out of our comfort zone.
I’m not suggesting that information isn’t useful or needed- quite the contrary. But what I am saying is that information needs to be paired with action and experience- quickly and close together- the combination of the two creating an alchemy that we understand to be skill.
The reality is both your body, and your horse don’t care about correct terminology or scientific names. What they respond to is how that information lives in your cells and expresses in your action. At some point you have to recognize the learning process as inherently messy. You will get it wrong. You will get confused and frustrated. That’s all part of it.
So, if you recognize yourself in this pattern, don’t let yourself get too far into your head before you put what you are learning into practice. Do it imperfectly. Stay observant. Repair your mistakes. But keep going.
Learning what I now teach was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, for the simple reason is I couldn’t use the techniques I had in the past to “smart” my way through. I’m a good student and a great swot. I can get my head down, bum up in a book and burn my way through those words in a weekend. But for the first time, this movement work didn’t let me do that. It didn’t really matter how much I knew if I hadn’t practiced.
And the true knowledge- the stuff that sinks down to the level of the marrow- only comes with the doing. I didn’t get to ‘decide’ how long that took because it wasn’t a cognitive process. Knowledge as a combination of lived, felt experience as well as intellectual understanding.
You don’t get to skip the doing part for that to happen.