This post stems from a conversation had in a coffee break over a year ago now, in the land of the Red Rose. I had the answer then ( for me) but I’ve played with it a bit in my head ( and in reality since)
We’d been talking about Hands and the enormous amount of brain connectivity that is given over to the hands both for sensory function and motor function, proportionate to other parts of the body..
There is a superb One minute Twelve second video about it here take the time and watch it. You will smile!
Two initial examples cropped up in conversation. Despite the person concerned being highly educated and still having “insatiable curiousity” about the world, and dedicating time to learning new stuff as well as mastery old stuff, despite having travelled the world, met interesting people and listened to them:
The skill named? Touch Typing.
Because no matter what job, role or business they were in whether typing up notes, reports, writing marketing materials, searching the internet, developing thoughts and ideas. Having the skill to touch fingers to the keyboard gave a fluidity of thought. Practical? Of course. Much better than that: a freedom of mind because the fingers could move swiftly to recording..without paralysing the thoughts.
For me, it was a different example. I can sort of touch type, I am looking at the screen as I do this not the keyboard and I am relatively fast. I am not in the same league as a touch typist. We discussed how in some colleges this certainly used to be a mandatory skill everyone was taught, and what a great idea. A sort of driving test for the fingers, giving freedom of thought movement.
Discussing this with other writers subsequently there has been an interesting response. Some need pencil and paper to think to get their ideas down. Some can send their thoughts straight to their fingers via the keyboard. Personally if an idea is clear, it will come out whole using a keyboard. If there is still some work to be done on the thoughts, in the end the swiftest way to get there for me, is completely manual. A hunt will ensue for a writing implement and the back of an envelope if no sheets of paper are around.
I’ve blithly summarised what must be an exhaustive set of things that being able to Touch Type has made a significant difference to. I know because it was not my personal experience that I have massively understated it.
The person I was talking to is a highly visual person.
Initially my thoughts went to literacy. Being able to read early gave me transport into other worlds, and minds. Being able to read means the internet is an infinite playground for me. Literacy is the passport to so many things without which life in the 21st century would be permanently hobbled. Literacy it seemed wasn’t the right answer for me. It didn’t sound right. But it was close to it.
As a highly auditory person, I listen for HOW things sound. Even when reading it is a sort of combined auditory and visual experience. Of course typing adds in another sensory experience and one using the hands so a lot of neuro connectivity there.
In the end it became startlingly obvious what it was for me. Learning to read music.
Learning to read music as a child was useful in the moment, because I could start to play music with others because of it. And I LOVED doing that. But later in life the realisation has come that so many things that feel innate were developed from that time, were given some magic boosts.
Learning to read music gave me:
An understanding of symbology
An understanding of rhythm and tone
An appreciation of harmony and dischord
Because I could read music, I learned a few instruments and sang. Because I did that, I developed more brain hand connections. Because I did that my music playing ( as child!) developed. Because my technical skill developed, I learned to play in groups. Because of that I learned to Listen to HOW things sounded. Because I did that I learned to work in a team for something unimaginable and greater than me. Because I learned that I learned about responsibility to the group and to myself. Because I played in wider groups I was exposed to all sorts of different people, through the music and through the people I played with I was exposed to different cultures and different stories. Because I learned that …
List goes on.
What Pivotal thing, what skill was it that you learned early on, that when you look back you know was the foundation and the stepping stone to things you have done subsequently?
What was it?
And are you actively using and honouring it today?
Comments are enabled so I would love to hear, please chime in.
What did it for you?