The Lessons Found In Life
The Life lessons Adam Aronovitz Taught Us All
“Every fiction has its base in fact.”
There are always lessons to be found, and when Adam Aronovitz came to Fenn, he reminded us all of this. In the short time we were with him, the exercises he ran taught us valuable lessons that can be related to many aspects of life and were even applicable to understanding books like the Odyssey. He reminded us of the importance of being a leader, of being patient with others and ourselves, of recognizing the viewpoints of others, and of being productive in different life scenarios.
In my group exercise, we were tasked to work in a simulation in which a hypothetical poorer independent nation needed our resources and advice in building a monument to commentate their independence. Although I was not excited by this at first, this exercise taught me some surprisingly valuable lessons.
One of those lessons was to be patient and approachable. During the exercise there wasn’t much cohesion between the groups and both sides were really fixated on their ideas. The stubbornness between the groups led to a much less productive period than it could have been. I learned from these mistakes that as a group we needed to listen to everyone’s ideas, to be approachable, and to be flexible. We could have done this by first stating our intentions and ideas which, in my opinion, would have had a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of the two groups. That action, combined with all of us being flexible to a new idea, willing to comprise, and able to talk with each other, would have made for a more effective and productive session. The importance of flexibility reminded me of Telemachus’ journey to find his father in the The Odyssey in many different ways. Telemachus has no real path on his journey so he must be flexible and willing to face difficult times and be patient in looking for his father.
Importantly, I also learned to take the initiative to be an effective leader. During the exercise our group was disorganized, some people were arguing, and others were pairing off into small groups -- none of which helped the group as a whole. As I reflect back on this I realize that the group needed a leader to get it moving in a better direction. I could have done this by being a mediator, stopping the arguing, and letting people hear each other’s ideas and give them time to reflect. From this exercise I gleaned that there is always an opportunity to be a leader, especially when things aren’t going well. Telemachus in The Odyssey had taken initiative to find his father — something no one had done — and in risking like this, he took a step in the right direction towards getting rid of the suitors swarming to court his mother.
Lastly, the lesson that has stayed with me the most from the exercise pertained to respecting the different viewpoints of people. Once the exercise was completed, he asked everyone to share their opinions about the other group they were working with. At first those opinions were mostly negative, but this changed after he asked us to look at the other group’s description of their country’s inhabitants. Doing this made me realize how we had all failed to see the other group’s viewpoints on the exercise. Recognizing different viewpoints allows you to get into the minds of what others are thinking and to bring new ideas into play; it creates new opportunities for growth, resolves problems earlier, helps us better understand ourselves, and enables us to appreciate what another person is thinking or means more quickly. This perspective provides another parallel to The Odyssey because the gods have different viewpoints on Odysseus. Gods like Ino and Athena take pity on Odysseus and keep him alive by saving him from drowning and sending him to the shores of lands away from the storm that god Poseidon has commanded to slow him from reaching home.
In the end, I know there are are always valuable lessons in trying new things; it’s just a matter of whether you try to see them.