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Walking down the same path at exactly the same speed, heading for all the same destinations can be a mistake for several reasons. When we use past conclusions to explain all of our realities, we can be doing ourselves a rather major disservice.

Here’s an example. One of these days, I plan to make a trip to Paris. After having studied French in various formats and within numerous disciplines, it’s a life fulfillment to see the Louvre and Versailles. Up until yesterday, I had formulated a number of “truths” about France.

For one, I believed that communicating would be a challenge that of considerable importance. Once upon a time, a pilot from Air France notified me that my French was that of an uneducated, poor French woman. Perhaps he had another agenda consisting of superiority. In any case, I continued to believe that my French was marginal.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to hear a French government official deliver a short speech with English subtitles. Amazingly, I could understand every word and would have been able to translate it as delivered. It’s probably a good message that I should re-evaluate my competence.

Another recollection was that France is hostile to Americans. Very recently, I discovered that in addition to the reality that such generalizations are inherently ridiculous, many French people are receptive to Americans, especially those who speak French.

We all have these comments, observations or reservations that make an unfortunate and often lasting imprint on our willingness to move forward. How many professional athletes were told at some time during childhood that they would never get to the bench, much less spend time on it? We’ve seen life stories of those who were told they would never walk and exceed all expectations by climbing serious cliffs.

All of this is to say that we all need to question our preconceptions and formulate new data. If you had an art teacher or classmate who advised that your stick figures stink, but you want to express yourself with charcoal or acrylic, take an art class. Likewise, if you’ve always wanted to play a music instrument but were advised that you were tone deaf, pick a guitar or piano and become proficient. If you have messages that you want to convey, write them somewhere.

While some dated information might be valuable, much of it is worthy of being sent to the landfill. Update your reference files and see what you can discover. Shalom.

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