Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Lessons through Typing

When I was sixteen, I learned to type.  I sat in a classroom with about thirty other students.  Each of us took our place behind a heavy, behemoth of a manual typewriter.  We were instructed to place our fingers on the “resting” keys……a, s, d, f for the left hand and semi colon, l, k, j for the right.  We pounded away on those eight keys for several lessons while repeating to ourselves “a, s, d, f, semi-colon, l, k. j” over and over again.  We were never allowed to look at the keys but kept our eyes either closed or staring straight ahead.

We graduated to reaching up one finger at a time to the row of keys above and the row below all the time chanting the new letters.  We gathered strength in our fingers as we banged down on the mechanical keys and we stomped away to music to keep our performance rhythmic. 

It was repetitive, boring and mind numbing and…..I am so glad I did it!

Being able to type fast and accurately has been possibly the most useful skill I have learned in my life.  Back in those days of heavy manual typewriters it never occurred to me that I would be using it today even more than I did then.  Nor did I have any inkling of how much easier it would be to be fast and accurate without spraining my fingers to depress the keys.

I have used my typing skills both to earn a living and to complete my education.  As a writer, I’ve always been able to type my own copy and as a student, was always able to produce my own papers….even finally a 400+ page dissertation.  What a blessing!

The advent of electronic typewriters and keyboards was an amazing bonus.  Now I was free to type almost at the speed of my thinking.  No more writing by hand and copying out in type but a free flowing exercise in applying thoughts to print in a matter of moments!

Back in the 60s when I was sitting in that classroom thumping away bored out of my mind it never occurred to me that half a century later I would be so grateful to my younger self for sticking it out.  I smile when I think of my grumpy teenage self grumbling to herself and cursing herself for signing up for such a trial!  If only she knew…..

To be able to look back and see how the various events and decisions of my life have fallen into the big picture of my journey is a gift for which I am so grateful.  So many things have happened in my life that, at the time, I couldn’t make sense of in terms of why it was happening and what it meant for me.  But as years go by, they all drop into place like the pieces of a jigsaw and the scene becomes more clear. 

We are all putting together the puzzle of our lives.  At the time we do things we often are not aware of the long term consequences or benefits.  We do them because they seem to be the best thing at the time or they are thrust upon us and we have to deal with them.  Sometimes things seem so bizarre or unrelated to anything we have experienced before or expected for the future that we hold up our hands in disbelief as we walk through them anyway.

Time however, has a way of making sense of almost everything.  When we have come through something difficult we often walk out the other side a stronger, wiser individual.  We are able to share our experience with others going through the same thing to give them hope and support. 

We can use our experience to change our own behavior and avoid the same pitfalls again or we can use it to ride the same wave a few times more.  All the time we gather wisdom and, as long as we don’t fall into the trap of losing hope, we grow and learn and keep moving forward.

Look back at your life and see how the puzzle is fitting together.  Are there some things that you thought odd at the time but now you can see why they had to occur?  What have been the lessons of some of these circumstances or events?  Do you still have some pieces that don’t seem to fit no matter which way you turn them or examine them?  (Take heart…..we all have some of those!)

Matching the pieces of your own personal jigsaw puzzle of life is an ongoing project.  Right now you may feel you have more pieces on the side than in place.  No matter.  Take it from one who has traveled 6 plus decades and know that, as you grow in years you will also grow in wisdom; the wisdom to see where and how the pieces fit and what they reveal about the beautiful pattern of your wonderful life.

I am so grateful to my younger self that I was able to type this without effort…..and without looking at the keys!


  1. Typing (apparently a class now called keyboarding - LOL) was the only class I actually rushed to. The classroom had 50% IBM Selectrics and 50% the old black manual clunkers that exercised the muscles in your fingers. Remember the old correction tape? Apparently things do get better and better ;)

  2. Yes Betsy, I remember correction tape......and carbon paper!!! I am grateful not to have to use either anymore.