Empty Your Cup: Accepting Ignorance to Learn

empty your cup khaled allen south korea warrior spirit Zen

One of the benefits of traveling is that it teaches you to see things through new eyes. While this can be refreshing, it also means that you have to learn all your life habits in a new context.

You basically have to learn to walk all over again.

If you don’t adapt well to this sort of thing, you stay in a fancy hotel where people take care of your needs, you pay a lot of money to live a lifestyle as close to that you were used to at home, and you avoid culture shock. Otherwise, you get really stressed out trying to make your life back home fit into your new country.

To believe that you still know what you’re doing is to actually be ignorant.

If, on the other hand, you remain flexible, you can do pretty well.

The key ability, I think, is to be able to accept your own real ignorance. When setting up in a new country, that is the closest to truth you can get. If you ignore that reality, then you’ll never open up enough space in your mind and personality to create new ways of living that enable you to actually build an effective life.

It’s like the old Zen saying about a full mind having no room for new knowledge. In order to learn and grow, you have to put aside all the things you think you know to learn anew the way things really are.

Every time I try to use the subway system here, I get lost. If I got frustrated, I'd never take the train anywhere. Instead, I've learned to accept that I'm still learning. I plan a bit of extra time and I enjoy 'exploring' the new stops and stations along my improvised route. This sort of thing happens in all areas of life.

I’m sure I’ll be learning all sorts of lessons about life here in Korea, so I hope to share a lot of them.

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