Why Learning is Unlearning

I created a list of urgent tasks yesterday. I started out with 3 points and slowly expanded the list to 16 points. I noticed that as soon as I had written down a point, I would forget the rest of my concerns related to that point (unlearn) and then my mind would start scrambling again till the next point comes in view (learn).  This “Learn and Unlearn” process can be seen almost everywhere. Think about it! its a scattered process because the universe is scattered.

The problem with creative people is that they are a kind of universe. For example, I know Technical Writing, Biological Sciences, Philosophy, English Literature, Event Management, and Mathematical Sciences. But during my spare time, I am an explorer who is continuously learning something else; for example, Dancing, Acting, Nutrition, Photography, and Creative Writing. I do all these fun things on the side because they are part of my existence and I cannot exist without them. This intriguing challenge is there because “Learning” is tied into “Unlearning” and this is a critical element of “Adult Growth and Development”.

Here are some useful articles on this phenomenon:

Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning
Learning and Unlearning: A Journey of Self-Acceptance
Unlearning: The key to unlock 21st Century problems?

Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved.


Note: This story is based on one of my childhood memories of my loving governess, Jasmine, who was responsible for babysitting and teaching me while I was in kindergarten. I was an accelerated child so I started reading at an earlier age.

Jasmine carried the girl in her arms who was crying like an infant after losing sight of her mother. “I want mommy. I want mommy, mommy,” she cried impotently as the governess addressed her gently while wiping tears from her small and round face. “Your bangs are so beautiful. They fall perfectly on your forehead such that you look like a princess,” she distracted the child further and kissed her left cheek as she sat on the checkered mattress. “She loves me. She is not mom, but she talks so softly. I must behave during this session,” the girl chided herself as she played with the hemline of her frock and nuzzled comfortably on Jasmine’s lap. “What do you want to do now? We should read, shouldn’t we? Which book do you want to read?” she asked the girl while pointing to her six books, which she had been eagerly carrying in her small backpack. Feeling lightened and soothed by her governess’s loving voice, the girl pointed to one book, “Let us read this one. It has pictures and description of a farm. I love farms Jasmine, love them,” she chuckled and rested her head against Jasmine’s bosom. She was a keen reader and as usual she surprised the governess by finishing the entire book in around five minutes. “Wow! You read so fast,” Jasmine exclaimed loudly as the girl played with her really long braids. “Who does your hair, Jasmine?” she asked curiously while caressing her governess’s braids. “Your braids are as thick as ropes. They are so pretty. They complement the shape of your face,” the girl cleverly returned the compliment that was issued to her a while ago. “Thanks! You are such a bright and sweet child,” Jasmine laughed as she closed the book and placed it in her backpack. “Your mom will be back soon and until then we should…,” Jasmine did not end up finishing her sentence because the girl broke down again. “I want mommy, Jasmine. Please, please…,” she cried in a rhythmic and lawless voice that echoed around the room and then wandered outdoors. “Oh! There, there. Let me clean your face. Your nose is running and your cheeks are looking so messy with tears,” Jasmine complained as she picked up the girl and ran to the washroom. She seated her near the wash basin, rinsed her clean hands with tap water, and wiped her face clean. The governess then washed her hands with soap and offered the child some water by cupping her hands. The girl drank the water from her hands like a thirsty pup and started feeling content, relaxed, and loved. “She is as caring as mommy,” she told herself as she threw herself in Jasmine’s arms and decided to nap.

Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved.


Unguarded people are extremely interesting to watch because some of them insult you without apologizing; others make you cry because they think that they can do so; some make you laugh till you turn into a moron; and yet others educate you through their bloopers or sophisticated teachings. The following are some categories of unguarded individuals:

  • Abused men and women who possess a distinct mental schema may state unsafe or unguarded comments or react differently than the rest to a potentially abusive situation. For instance, a divorced abused woman might tell an unmarried woman that perhaps it is time to not look for a mate any further because marriage is not for her. By doing so, she is throwing her failures on her friend and jeopardizing her chances of engaging in a successful relationship by discouraging her. Both abused men and women are unguarded because a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge that they have been abused—I feel this is because of the way their society works.
  • Abusive people are vulnerable because they may assume too many things and might be unable to visualize that the victims will find a way out even if it means sending a really odd music video to a stranger as a signal or committing suicide.
  • Individuals who possess a very high level of authority are unprotected because they may start acting abusive in their quest for more goods. What they don’t realize is that they are triggering everyone else who is not comfortable with this type of behaviour. For instance, a lot of resistance fighters are created by such abusive authority figures, and they might end up doing excessive damage—so, what was the point of exerting that much influence?
  • Children who are just learning about this world are very unfortified due to their mental and physical vulnerabilities. For instance, a child wipes his peanut-butter-filled hands on the glass wall of a bus station and then screams vehemently while being dragged away by his mother. The child feels and thinks that he/she hasn’t done anything peculiar.
  • Inexperienced women are undefended because they might not know how to react to advances made by men. For example, some of them end up reacting obsessively clingy or unnecessarily frightened by a gesture as mild as smiling.
  • Inexperienced men are also very unguarded because their body including muscles develops way faster than their intellect, I think. For example, some women just look at the developed body of young men and start thinking that they know how to handle women and life and that’s where things might get rougher for these young men.
  • Strong-willed people like activists are unguarded because they seem so extraordinary to average joes and are pushed by the system to act more in control by the minute although they know that they might lose the game—sounds pressuring, eh!
  • People who assume less are vulnerable because they might easily believe that everyone is nice, honest, and loving.
  • People who assume more are unprotected because they might end up appearing really rigid even when the situation is under their control or nothing has really happened.
  • Tall and short people are undefended because they might be insecure due to their stature. For instance, some of them might start accepting that people won’t like to marry them.
  • Educated people are defenseless because some of them might start feeling that their education, possessions, and rules are grand enough to protect or destroy others; some are too humble and are constantly erased by others owing to their loving nature; some become so pushy that people end up walking away from them; and yet others may start believing in their own concept of the world.
  • Uneducated people are unguarded because they start trusting and believing in the grandness of the educated people just like the natives of the novel “Heart of Darkness” started believing and worshiping Kurtz, the antagonist.
  • Teenagers are vulnerable owing to their innate need to complete a bond formation; if they fall in the wrong hands, then they can get really injured.
  • Elderly are unprotected because their mental and physical states render them too vulnerable just like a child.
  • Dancers are unguarded because of the dance reverie they need to experience in order to satisfy themselves—some of them are like drug addicts because they get high on the hormonal changes that take place during the dance.
  • People surrounded by friends are unguarded because their friends might make them believe false things about themselves.
  • People who are not surrounded by their friends are unguarded because there might be nobody to protect them during tough times.
  • Therapists and teachers are unprotected because of the nature of their occupation. For instance, some of them develop a very strong emotional bond with those they are trying to heal and thus start enduring abuse by their patients, which they may believe is the normal route to recovery.
  • Prisoners are unprotected due to the nature of the prisons just like free people are undefended due to the nature of this world.
In essence, everyone on Planet Earth including the planet itself is unguarded. So either you can sweat about your existence and possessions—they are vulnerable by nature because a calamity can destroy them—or you can pray for safety. Ciao!
lonely and old
Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved.