Learning Journal Assignment
Describe a transitional life experience that was discomforting, disquieting, or puzzling for you.
The day I discovered that I was not really cynical.
I thought I was a cynic. I thought I was tough. I thought I was a hardbitten realist, a skeptic, a doubter. A man with a steely-eyed gaze that pierced life's illusions and laid bare the reality, however ugly. Like a couple in a bad marriage, life and I had come to an arrangement: life would deal me the truth and I'd play the cards I got no matter how mixed the metaphor.
And then one day life told me something I wasn't ready to hear, a truth I wasn't ready to handle.
One day I found out that Santa Claus wears red and white because he's pushing Coca-Cola.
No, Coke didn't invent Santa out of whole red-and-white cloth. Santa predates the Pause that Refreshes. But prior to their 1930's ad campaign, Santa was fluid, flexible. He wore coats of many colors, and was portrayed variously: large, small, fat, skinny, merry and dour.
Then one day Santa's sleigh landed on the roof of the Coca Cola bottling factory in Erie, Pennsylvania, and when the Old Man at long last re-emerged he was.... different. He was changed... or more to the point, he was always the same
Apply Bridges model to your transitional life experience.
What was your ending?
I was broken by the news. My Inner Child shivered beneath the thin blanket of tattered illusions. And yet, that which does not destroy us makes us stronger, and I grew because I learned that even in the depths of my cynicism there would always be that spark of childlike hope, still shining despite Life's relentless efforts to snuff it out.
Describe your time in the 'neutral zone.' What did you do? How did you feel?
For a long time I was simply in shock. Seeing Santa, his image on signs and on the TV, I would flinch away. As a child I had come to grips with the nasty insinuation that Santa wasn't real. I had learned that reality was overrated: swimwear models, Reality TV, God and the American Dream are all unreal, and yet they are important. But one way that Santa was important was that, while unreal, he was still an untarnished symbol of generosity and childlike joy. When I learned that Santa worked for Coke, I was as hurt as if I had found out that my mother was only raising me as part of a Reality Television program.
For a long time I couldn't think of Santa the same way. When his name came up, I'd flinch.
How did you begin again?
I learned that I had to take ownership of Santa - that it wasn't enough to believe in Santa, now it was time for me to believe in MY Santa.
Reflect on your transitional life experience:
What meaning did you give to the life transition?
When I was a child I believed in magic and mythology, and my journey away from childhood was measured by the milestones of reality. The more I disbelieved in the unreal and embraced "reality," the more "grown up" I was.
Santa taught me that Reality isn't all it's cracked up to be. He marked an important step in my journey away from Reality, and back towards believing in the unreal. Santa taught me that not only was Reality overrated, but even the consensus fantasy of Jolly St. Nick left something to be desired.
What happened to you as a result of the transition?
I grew stronger in my understanding of and distaste for Reality. I grew stronger in my comforting delusions.
Comment on the process of your transition -
Well, I think it was shaped by the classic Stages of Grieving by Kubler-Ross. At first I couldn't believe the truth, and for a long time I didn't like to think about or see Santa. But soon I began to construct a worldview in which I could first understand what Santa meant to me, and then fit Santa into a reconstructed view of the world.
Was your transitional experience linear? Or did it take another shape? How so?
It was a linear portion of a circular journey. I had to learn to trust Santa again, and not only that but to reclaim Santa for my own. The larger journey is the circular return to the beliefs of my childhood.
Was he experience linked to another transition? How so?
It was a part of a larger journey in which I am learning that sometimes Unreality is stronger and more reliable than Reality.
How permanent was the outcome of your life transition?
What learning did you experience as a result of your life transition?
I learned that even when Reality conspires to undermine our supporting beliefs, the strength of imagination can allow us to rebuild a more delusional lifestyle in which our core values are supported by the crazy things we choose to believe.
How did the experience change you, in terms of behavior, feelings, atittudes and understandings?
Well, I learned to be more independent in my beliefs, nad less strongly bound to the strictures of Reality. It gave me confidence and self-assurance. It no longer mattered to me what others said about Santa, his motives and his financial backers... My Santa remained the untarnished, generous, kind and merry soul that I wanted him to be.
How would you describe the learning that you experienced, additive learning, developmental learning, or both? Please explain?
It was definetly developmental learning as I had to mentally develop a new means of interpreting the world that allowed Santa to remain Santa, despite the slanderous lies of Reality.