Turn It Off

twilightIf you are ever on the Island of Hawai’i on the Saturday closest to the full moon, you should make it a point to go to Twilight at Kalahuipua’a. Twilight at Kalahuipua’a is an evening of story telling, music and hula at Mauna Lani’s Eva Parker Woods Cottage. Bring a picnic, some wine, a chair and some friends. You won’t regret it.  It is a great example of “talk story.” For those unfamiliar with Hawaiian history, the Hawaiians had no written language. They relied on passing on their traditions, culture and history orally. There were no pens, recorders, or any other device to aid the memory. Learning required  paying attention and listening.

During the talk story last night, Walter Kawai‘ae‘a was speaking about how he learned ukulele from his mentor, Kahauanu Lake. A sophomore in high school, he spent summer vacation, every day, seven days a week, from early morning into the evening with his teacher. Here’s the kicker. Nothing was ever written down. It got me to thinking, as I once prided myself as a great multi-tasker,  how good was I really? What might I have done differently if I had given my undivided attention to each task? What might I have retained if I hadn’t relied on writing notes or making recordings? In this day of instant access to information, via Google and such, how much are we losing by not engaging in the actual act of learning? For example, how many phone numbers can you recall without your smartphone? I used to know everybody’s number.

Here’s a challenge. Take 30 minutes and give something your undivided attention. Turn off the computer, silence the phone, put down the pen. Find something you are interested in and pay attention. I’m guessing you are going to find this difficult at first. Stick with it. We need to keep our neural networks charging!

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