I’m amazed by the number of things that I have learned that don’t take root right away. They are just little seeds floating around in my brain, presumed forgotten until all of a sudden they are front and center and acting like they’ve been there the whole time! I guess in that respect we are products of experience.
In high school, Ms. Baer was my English teacher in the 10th and 11th grades. It felt like every time I submitted a paper to her, it was returned with at least one “cs” on it, written in red ink; “CS” was the dreaded comma splice. While I had memorized the rule, I couldn’t seem to apply it.
According to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, rule 5: If two or more clauses, grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction, are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.
Flash forward 10 years. I was working as a temporary receptionist at a civil engineering firm in Orlando explaining the rule to the project managers, who (in looking back) were probably as interested in the rule as I was the first time I heard it. [I did send Ms. Baer a thank you note after that experience.]
Strangely enough, my short (7 month) Florida stay was ripe for these delayed light bulbs. It rains there (understatement!), and I remember driving through an intersection and then all of a sudden I’m hydroplaning. I remembered not to break. I remained pretty calm … and then I start to fishtail. Inside my brain all I hear is the sound of myself screaming; then suddenly, in my head is Coach Holbert’s voice from drivers’ ed: “Steer into the skid.” Not quite a “Use the force, Luke” kind of moment, but since the idea was there, I followed it. Holy cow! It worked! It sounded counter intuitive when I was 16, bored and sweating in summer school, but it saved my car and possibly my life!
I’d love to hear your stories. What skills/knowledge grenades have you discovered that you had … or … What valuable seeds could I be planting now that might take root?