Cebo Campbell

Experience is our true Educator

Specialization is the proudest form of oppression.

Specialization fosters dependency. A man with a singular talent leans upon that mastery with all his weight, requiring the talents of others to give him balance. The engineer and his family need the farmer, the farmer needs the distributor, the distributor needs the businessman, the businessman needs the engineer and his family, and so on. They hold each other up, and others upon others, a form of harmony through tension, until whole societies can be navigated and manipulated, with little effort, by the few who require nothing and master living rather than things.

We are taught, as soon as we can learn, that specialization is the true measure of mastery. Do one thing well. Choose a major. Have a title. And while the mastery of a skill is worthy of our praise, accomplishment at the level of fulfillment is not always the result of our natural talent, but the product of time, focus and an unquenchable curiosity spread out in all directions.

Six million years ago our ancestors were possibly the most vulnerable creatures on the planet. Small, thin, and with only minor evolutionary defense against predators, they walked upright around the earth learning the seasons, the fundamental properties of plants, and eventually the strategies necessary to transition from prey to hunter. These skills, all intrinsically different, allowed them to expand their quality without adding a single physical evolutionary advantage. They grew from weakest species to the most dominant.

Fast forward several million years to the year 1452, when a boy is born to a peasant mother who could not provide him a formal education. Dyslexic and introverted, the boy’s natural creativity was the engine of his learning. Nature was his tutor, whole cities his classroom and the human experience his study. His apprenticeship to life was almost entirely self-directed while he learned, tried, failed at many things to perfect his perspective.  In time, the boy mastered painting, sculpting, music,

architecture, engineering, anatomy, geology, cartography, botany, writing and many more. To a boy who would eventually paint the Mona Lisa, even the first prototype for a tank and discover previously unknown parts of the human body, learning was fair game and all ideas both epic and possible.

I like to imagine that in our world singers also build houses, a garbageman plays Othello, investment bankers design Hadron supercolliders and software engineers open farms in third-world countries. In a given day I will write, design a bookshelf, code a web application, cook something entirely made up, do sketches for the perfect wine glass and read about the battle of Agincourt. I walk the earth, taste, touch, feel, see all that I can. I don’t do this because it is easy or because I have lots of free time. I do it because my time is limited and when I look back on it all, I’ll say I exhausted my brain and contributed my part to the sum of human knowledge. Such learning is as inherent in me as my ancestors. We just can’t help it.

For us, experience as education and learning many things is not a matter of time or of money or of circumstance, but a subtle sense that one thing is simply not enough;

learning many things is realizing that the learned, tried, failed, succeeded, and attempted enriches the quality of all their work and all their lives.
A single specialty cannot contain them.

You do not need permission. If you can’t find a way, pioneer one. If you are worried about the time and energy it takes to learn something new, ask yourself what else will you do with that time and that energy before it is gone? If you are worried about failing, know this: revolutionary accomplishments are conceived in the bed of failures.

Eknath Easwaran, asked of us all, “To be no longer content to pick up what is floating on the surface of life, and to want only the pearls at the bottom of the sea, this is grace, welling up from deep inside.”

All that you need to do all that you want you already have.

Go. Do. Try. Fail. Succeed. And make us all proud.

 

-C

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About

I am an author and a Creative Director.

As a full-time creative (VP of Creative Services at Spherical), I spend most days writing in the nooks and crannies of my available time. I wake up at 5:30am just to get in a few hours putting words on paper. I write on the train. I write on planes. I write waiting in lines. I feel I have to write. The reason is simple: representation.

I often tell the story of Ferris Bueller; a kid who decides to skip school and, on charm alone, steals a car, impersonates a cop, drinks underage, tampers with computers, and at every step exposes his best friends to peril, only to go home and fall asleep with his mother to kiss him into sweet dreams. I asked myself if Ferris were Trayvon Martin, how might that story end? I know the answer. So do you. And this is why representation is so important. I aim to contribute more stories into the world that diversely feature regular (but beautiful) lives made extraordinary. Art, I believe, is the only way to accomplish this. All my creative work is inspired by and aims to add to all the great work in the world.

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