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A Matter of Perspective

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” — Mark Twain

That quote brought a smile to my face when I read it because I knew exactly what Twain was talking about! Some of us are a bit slower to learn this lesson because we have to do it at least twice!

There are many ways to learn things, just like there is more than one way to “skin a cat.” (Poor cats! They get a lot of grief, don’t they!?)

But this one lesson, there is NO other way to learn it! If you carry a cat by the tail, you will learn a valuable lesson!

Education is a tricky subject. Some believe that formal education is only a way to teach us to become workers. To some extent, I think that is true. We need workers, don’t get me wrong. But we also need thinkers.

Promoting lifelong education is something that I think we sometimes forget to do.

Only by continually learning can we create the lives and the world that we want to live in.

Of course, the problem arises when we realize that not everyone has the same idea about what the world should look like!

When those ideas come into conflict, well, it is much like carrying a cat by the tail, isn’t it?

As I am writing this, I am glancing over at my cat and wondering what mischief she is thinking about getting into!


Learning can be full of distractions. Sometimes it is hard to focus on learning something new when the world around us is spinning so fast it takes a lot of effort just to hang on...

I like this quote, too: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” —Mahatma Gandhi

There is a lot of wisdom there.

I think that the change we wish to see in the world can come about through learning. I am not alone in this thinking.

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” —Leo Buscaglia

If what we learn doesn’t change us, then I would say it wasn’t true learning.

When we learn the alphabet and we learn how to read, we become readers. That is change. (I still don’t know what happens when we learn math, though!!)

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” — Abraham Lincoln

I believe that through daily acts of self-improvement we can make ourselves better by at least 1% every day.

That doesn’t mean we have to learn 100 new things. What I think this means is to learn 10 things and do them over and over and over until we are better and better at them.

I think the best quote I read while researching this article is this one, though: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” — Henry Ford

If you want to stay young, keep learning—forever!

And if all else fails and you don’t feel you can ever learn anything else, pick a cat up by the tail and see how long you can carry it!


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