What Did You Learn?

Imagine that you have a glass of water and ice.  There is so much ice that a fair amount of it is floating above the water line but yet not so much that it is pushing against the bottom of the glass.  If you drew a line on the outside of the glass to mark the water level, where would the water level be after the ice melted assuming no evaporation?  Above the line?  At the same line?  Or below the line?  That was an extra credit question on a physics test I took many years ago.  I still remember the answer.  What do you think it is?

There was someone I avoided seeing in my life for many, many years.  There had been a decision I struggled over and I was pretty sure the choice I made disappointed that person. Besides that, I had come to believe that what I had imagined he would have wanted me to do had probably been right and that what I had done had probably been wrong.  A few years ago life circumstances put me face to face with that person at a very vulnerable point in my life.  I needed his help.  I reminded him what I had done and told him I’d avoided him all those years because of it. He had long ago forgotten all about it.  He wished I’d come to talk to him about it when it happened.  “You know what I would have said?” he asked.  I didn’t.  “I would have said, ‘So what did you learn from it?’  If you learned something from it, the experience was worthwhile.”

Sometimes we get so stuck on the fact that we had it wrong, that we can’t take the useful lesson and move forward. But maybe life isn’t as much about being right or wrong as it is about learning.

The water level in the glass stays the same by the way.  There are mathematical equations to explain it all.  I don’t remember the equations.  I remember the answer because I struggled over it and got it wrong.  And now I will always remember.

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