As we go through life, we discover that we can learn in different ways. Some of us learn by reading non-fiction or listening to audiobooks.   Others prefer to learn by observing or experiencing things firsthand. However, there is a common saying that “Experience is the best teacher”, which can sometimes be misconstrued as having to constantly put ourselves in harm’s way to learn. But this is not necessarily true.

I remember a friend of mine during a holiday weekend, purchasing a ton of fireworks and anxiously waiting for night to fall. The bottle rocket (which became illegal in Ontario 10 years after this story took place) had a long stick that was supposed to be inserted into the ground before the fuse was lit. However, in a moment of impulsive disobedience, my friend lit the fuse on a bottle rocket while holding onto the stick. As a result, the rocket back-fired and hit his chest, dropping him to the ground. Though he was winded and his pride was bruised, he slowly got back up on his feet.

This incident highlights the fact that we don’t always have to go through things ourselves to learn a lesson. As I witnessed my friend’s mishap, I too learned the importance of following instructions and taking caution when handling dangerous items. Similarly, as you read this story, you too may have learned a lesson without having to experience the same pain and discomfort as my friend.

While experience can be a great teacher, it is not always necessary to learn through trial and error. In fact, by reading books, watching documentaries, or listening to the experiences of others, we can gain valuable insights without putting ourselves in harm’s way. For example, if you spend four hours reading a biography, you can gain the wisdom and experience of someone’s entire lifetime in just a short amount of time.

So let’s stop allowing bottle rockets to knock us off our feet, and start learning from others. By doing so, we can broaden our perspectives, expand our knowledge, and avoid unnecessary pain and hardship. Remember, experience may be a great teacher, but it doesn’t always need to be YOUR experience.

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