Learn Is Discrete, Not Continuous -- I figured this out when I went through my "divorce," at age 25. (We weren't actually married, but we'd lived together for so long it felt like one.) It felt like I'd learned a lot over the previous six years but few of those changes could actually take place until my life was thrown into upheaval, like they were just queued up and waiting, and then I suddenly got six years smarter all at once. I think familiar context, being in your comfort zone, makes it easy not to change. Learning happens when you get thrown out of your routines and are forced to question assumptions. This is on my mind because I just read a revision of a short story that John started a couple of years ago, and the quality of the prose is palpably richer; I think moving across the country allowed him to level up, as it were.
Talking Makes Us More Emotional -- There's something about speech itself that allows us, or forces us, to appreciate circumstances on an emotional versus an intellectual level. There have been many times that I've known something is "sad," objectively, but felt no emotional connection to it until I tried to talk about it, and then started crying. I remember this happening once in college; I had heard that a childhood friend, someone I wasn't close to anymore, had been in a car accident and her arm was severed off. When I first heard, I was just like, "Wow, how awful." But when I told my mom about it, I got suddenly choked up; I was surprised to learn how much I cared. Talking triggers something. My friend Kevin agrees -- when his wife Katie had her pelvis crushed by a wall a couple of years ago, he maintained composure until he had to start calling family members to tell them she was in the hospital. Leaving that first message is when he finally lost it.