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Back To School

by Marlene Buffa

The mediocre teacher tells.

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.

~William Arthur Ward

Each year, millions of children return to school to complete another year of education in their young lives. Some anxiously await the first day of school with eager anticipation while others face an annual dread of the entire process. From the earliest forms of learning such as the “original” home-schooling, then one-room schoolhouse, to modern trends of digitized instruction, the importance of information increases with the demands of our society. Not so much concerned with regurgitating facts and statistics, life asks us to learn on many levels, and every day, we’re challenged by our culture to perform better, think faster and innovate more. In the school of life, the puzzles to solve become more difficult as we grow older. Spirit dares us to continue our journey of learning and we look to insight and integration, as well as possibility and resolution for the answers.


We all recognize an “ah-ha!” moment when it happens. In fact, the instant revelation and understanding happen, almost like a sneeze, the effect breathes irreversible and complete changes. Once you understand something – a concept, a method, a practice, - you carry with you not only the ability to comprehend it, but also to apply it to other aspects of your life. The light-bulb of recognition forever alters the way you view the information, and illuminates your future consideration on the subject-matter.

The elusive “ah-ha!” seems to wash over us like a fragile limb breaking free in the wind from the gnarly tethers of ignorance. Life, then, raises the bar of expectation and in ever-increasing challenges, coaches us to make use of our insight in all areas of our thoughts. With increasing difficulty in proportion to the level of insight, the school of life judges and grades us at every turn. Then, the transformation from “ah –ha!” to “of course” takes place and we begin to consider concepts on a more encompassing scale.


A Psychology professor of mine taught about learning and memory. Dr. Erickson stressed to strive to understand “the gist” of ideas and concepts and the remaining details would fall into place. He noted that we spend too much effort getting lost in minor points without a clear understanding of an issue.

With a broad grasp of knowledge, we progress forward from a position of micro-focus to a search for possibilities. Once you “get the gist” of something, you then begin to see how the idea relates to the world around you and interacts with similar and opposing concepts. Possibility-thinking rises up from a position of solid understanding and serves as the cherry on top of our knowledge base.


An old friend, an educator and author on relationship matters, once commented on a single person’s quest for the perfect mate. “Everyone has problems,” she began. “You just need to find someone with a set of problems you can live with.” In our earthly journey, life presents a series of challenges for us to overcome. One by one (and more often than not, problems arrive concurrently rather than serially!), difficulties arise in our lives. We use our understanding and insight and most of all our possibility-thinking to find resolutions.

Like the “ah-ha!” moment, resolutions allows us to move forward on our journey. No longer limited by the blindfolds of ignorance and doubt, resolutions offer a welcome ray of relief speckled with the kaleidoscope of promise and completion. While its true, we all carry our own set of problems – both solvable and chronic – the manner in which we make the highest use of our life-lessons to overcome the difficulties at hand speaks volumes for the strength of our spirit.


My father always said that mistakes enriched our lives. He said to accept any mistakes I made, learn from them, move on, and try not to repeat them. I’ve found that when you integrate what you’ve learned from life through daily lessons, you make fewer mistakes. Calling on your history and experience, you more easily recognize the potential repetition of an error or misjudgment, and hopefully forestall or dodge a bad situation. Just like the childhood rule for crossing the street, “Stop. Look. Listen,” take a moment to reflect on what you already know and integrate that wisdom into your next moment of action.

Spirit put us on earth to learn. Our school appears either in academia or in real life lessons. No matter your learning style, life will repeatedly teach its lessons over and over until you learn them. So, by looking within, and using your skills of insight to create an open door of possibility, you can find a resolution when you integrate your cumulative experience and information thereby shortening your learning curve. The more you practice this mindful process of recognizing life’s lessons and moving through the steps, the wiser you’ll grow!

May you continually be inspired by life to reach your inner awakening and spiritual maturity.


Marlene Buffa

Taking a quiet sideways glance at life, Marlene offers insight through her words from experiences. . A student of new-thought teachings, Marlene finds practical spirituality around every corner and seeks wisdom through observation of life’s inter-relationships. Sometimes playful, sometimes poignant, always thought-provoking, her writing inspires readers in meaningful ways.


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