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Tipping the bonnet

Today I baked bread.

The S stands for SUPER BREAD. Obviously.

Like knitting and raising plants, this is one of those things that occasionally prompts me to think of all the other people who have done this: a fairly fundamental urge that has brought humans along for thousands of generations, as we clothe and feed ourselves with the skills handed on.

The Tartine Bread Experiment‘s most recent post mentioned how grateful she was to Susan at Wild Yeast for all her guidance along the breadmaking path. And that got me thinking, as things do.

Thought 1. Thanks everyone! I have learned a lot from people who take their time to share their knowledge, mistakes and experience online, for free. Knitting, music, writing, cooking, gardening, yoga: every one of these has been enormously enhanced by the willingness of people to share their skills. People who have invested their time in making videos, writing step-by-step instructions, preparing detailed blog posts, and answering questions or offering advice on forums: thanks. I’d all-caps that to indicate enthusiasm, but I’m trying to also convey how grateful I am. All told, I’ve benefited in huge ways from thousands of donated hours from other people. And that, chums, is a beautiful thing.

Thought 2. Don’t just sit there, learn something! Teaching yourself something is amazing, and nearly everything can be learned by jumping in and trying it. (Not welding, usually, or train-driving, but there’s fundamentals of theory you can learn first.) Wanna learn a language? How to knit? Bonsai? Distilling poppy tea? Popular dog breeds of the English Regency period? It’s all out there, baby: you just have to look around.

Thought 3. Even if you’re learning under a teacher (like yoga or an instrument) or to a set curriculum (like a course of study or a weightlifting plan), there’s room to explore and learn on your own. Last year I bought a violin and taught myself how to hold it, how to bow, how to play some basic scales: when I started lessons under a teacher this year, I already had some idea how to use it but also on what I want to get out of the lessons, and, overall, what I want to get from the instrument. Learning from a teacher can be amazing: they have the experience and skills to tell you what more you can get from what you’re doing. But spending time on it yourself is how you’re going to make those skills yours.

So go! Do! Learn! Think!

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