Day 22: Tales of an Autodidact

My life has been like one big process of self-education.  Even when I was learning from other teachers or coaches, in a way, it was usually to serve my own personal desires to grow.  And many of the things I have learned I have done on my “own” (although reading a book is technically learning from another).  Back in 2008, I began jogging five days a week on my own, although I was inspired by others to do it.   I taught myself to rhyme and write lyrics on my own, although at one point I also worked with a songwriting mentor.  Over the past 3 and a half years, I have read dozens of books on money to grow my own knowledge of personal finance, all on my own.  As a pianist, although I benefited enormously from piano teachers through high school (and a bit in college), since then I have mostly taught myself music without the instruction or help of someone else.  Also, while I did get much instruction in music theory and composition in high school and college, since then I have mostly composed music on my own.

To me, self-education is more about personal initiative and discipline than anything else.  It’s about being able to do things without someone standing over you and telling you to do it.  It’s about being the person who stands over yourself.  I believe having other people to inspire and even keep me motivated can be very important, yet I also know the power of taking matters on my own.

I think you probably have to be willing to do this if you are going to get things done.  The music for “The Cherry Rainbow Piano Experience,” my last album, was written completely on my own watch, without anyone overseeing it.  It was my from my own intention, started long ago, that I would write beautiful piano music.

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, my teacher lent me a copy of the “Chronicles of Narnia” (which has 7 books).  He told me that if I read all the books, I could keep them.  I took this on as a personal challenge and a chance to prove myself.  I remember the effort it took me to stick with it, because my teacher was not there to check in on me.  It was up to me to go through with it.  Once I overcame a bit of resistance, I was on a roll.  And all those books got read.  This kind of thing showed me what I could accomplish by simply sticking with something as a matter of my word, no matter who was or wasn’t watching.

It’s kind of what is going on with this blog.   I have told “the whole world,” or at least my friends on Facebook who saw my posts, that I am doing this for 365 Days.  The accountability factor is important: the fact that I “shouted it from the rooftops” helps me keep it going, since I know that I would look like a real idiot if I didn’t.  Yet another things that helps is the fact that I have a lot of confidence in my own ability to do something on my own once I get started.

Here’s to the autodidacts! (Yes, I love that word, for all its exotic strangeness)


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