Delayed Light Bulb

Stylized Picture of LightbulbsI’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?

2 thoughts on “Delayed Light Bulb”

  1. We sense – and retain – way more than we realize, and all of it – as well as all that we have ever sensed, and perhaps even all that we have yet to sense – is available to us if we only know to pay attention.

    Check out Through the Wormhole on Science Channel, Episode “Is there a sixth sense?”. Fascinating!


  2. I watched that episode recently. It was fascinating! And Tammy, scary scenario in Florida. Our brains are so mysterious and fascinating. They tuck things away that pop when we need them (hopefully), they hide things we (at least I) want to recall and then when I stop thinking about them – they surface, tauntingly, and intuition is so much stronger if we flex it and listen to it. And memory? Don’t even get me started – those random, very precise moments from decades ago that stay with us and then other things more recent are a blur. Why? I love the pondering of it. And Tammy, a good reminder from you that we NEVER know when something we say or do will, quite literally, save a person’s life.


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