Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

It Bears Repeating

Take 3In my late twenties, my infatuation with Buster Keaton was full-blown. Several TV channels ran his movies and biographies. I taped them all. I read everything I could find in print. Of all the material that I read, what I call his “rule of three” stuck out the most.

Basically, as best as I can recall, he approached his movie making thus:

  • First take, to rehearse the scene.
  • Second take, to refine and tweak.
  • Third take, to nail it!

It worked for him, and it made sense to me.

So much so, that ten years later I referred to it while studying Behaviour Modification. The prof asked the class, “Any guesses how many trials are required before a new task is learned?”

My hand shot up, “Oh! I know, I know! Pick me, ask me!” [eye roll:this is me almost 40 years old]

“Three!” I beamed.

She just smiled. Apparently, I missed the mark. By several thousands, if not tens of thousands.

This whole business of learning and re-learning has been a recurring theme this week. Sobermomwrites posted an eloquent piece  on the difficulties of overcoming the faulty “programming” we experienced growing up.  She wrote about how she learned from her mom that appearances are what matter. I commented,

I had a mom like yours. It was all about looks – get a nose job, tuck in your tummy, why don’t you have any boyfriends. So, yeah, same software design, and it sounds like just about the same vintage as you.

What I wish, is that when on the rare occasion I can truly “get it” and have insights like you just wrote about… What I wish is that it would stick, damn it! Stick and remain stuck and forever ban the old programming from running again.

Doesn’t work that way.

Judging from that last emphatic complaint, on some level I know it. I have yet to transform that knowing into understanding.

Karen re-posted a piece of hers. The fact that she felt compelled to do so felt divine intervention-ish to me. For, once again, there’s the theme of repitition and learning.

I won’t give up. I’ll keep writing even if no one reads it but I’ll especially keep writing for all the people who need to hear messages of hope, love and faith. Yes, all the words have already been written and by people far more talented at communicating than me but sometimes we need to hear the same message over and over before it sinks in.

Another bit of wisdom came via Helen, someone whose writing and persona I admire very much. Earlier this week I posted an assignment from my current school work. The video is what I had intended on sharing, but I threw in the physics assignment to flesh out the piece. I didn’t expect anyone to read it. I was pleasantly surprised by the feedback. People were saying nice things about me. I was careful to allow that yes, while I was able to put together a reasonable response to the assignment, I couldn’t talk about physics concepts today to save my life!

Helen replied,

Never mind whether you remember it, you understand it!

I like to say that “the heart has a mind of its own”. My heart understands it. But my heart has a mind that thinks it should take only three tries to nail it. My heart is trying to convince my mind that it takes tens of thousands of tries. Even then, it might need to try again.












Categories: Personal Growth

Tags: ,

20 replies

  1. A very good friend of mine wrote a piece about how learning is not linear. We don’t just learn math in math class and history in history class. I’ve always been told that the lesson presents itself when the student is ready to learn and the same lesson may have to be repeated from different teachers before we get what we need from it. That’s why I can tell my kids that they may fall when they jump on the bed but they don’t believe it until the bed tells them! Here’s my friend’s post. You might enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a thought provoking piece with excellent references. I’m noting it to come back to after my A to Z immersion is over because It has triggered reactions I want to muse and write. Thank you! I am enjoying your blog very much.


  3. I used to like that Buster Keaton. He had a knowing look in his eye, even when he had an innocent expression on his face… He wouldn’t have had to try more than three times if he had wanted to nail me!


  4. Silly me – I thought it was 3 too, as in – learn one, do one, teach one.
    That explains why I seem to have forgotten so much!


  5. Thanks, Maggie! There’s nothing quite like that moment when head and heart make the connection, painful though it sometimes is.


  6. Your learning becomes you!


  7. Buster Keaton is great and all, but I am infatuated with Charlie Chaplin.


  8. Heh heh. When I was online dating, one of the questions I posed by way of “getting to know you” was “Keaton or Chaplin?” Not a deal breaker by a long shot, but worth knowing. I asked the same question elsewhere here on WP for one of the awards. I think I stumped some people who thought I meant Diane or Michael Keaton.


  9. Reblogged this on Out of My Mind and commented:
    I’ve got nasty habits. And The Zombies know it.



  1. Buster for Auntie Doris | The Zombies Ate My Brains

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