“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Chinese Proverb

Imagine, if you will, me standing in the kitchen, a place where I often feel as out of place as a cat at a dog show. Before me lies a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, a dish that promises the comfort of a warm hug wrapped in a flaky pastry. The recipe, written with the kind of cheerful optimism that I usually reserve for my annual dental checkup, assures me that even a culinary novice like myself can achieve greatness.

Now, if someone were to simply recite this recipe to me, I’d nod along, my mind wandering to that time I mistook salt for sugar and created what could only be described as a dessert for someone you deeply despise. But, should a kind-hearted soul take it upon themselves to demonstrate the pie-making process, guiding me through the mystical land of roux and lattice tops, I might retain a nugget of that wisdom. The pie could, theoretically, materialize as something edible, rather than a prop in a slapstick comedy.

Yet, let’s elevate this gastronomic adventure. Imagine I’m not just a bystander in this pie saga but the protagonist, elbow-deep in flour, wielding a rolling pin with the clumsy grace of a newborn giraffe. There’s a very real chance I’ve mistaken the thyme for oregano, but that’s all part of the charm.

In this immersive, hands-on experience, I’m not just learning how to crimp edges or balance the delicate symphony of peas and carrots. I’m understanding the soul of the Chicken Pot Pie. Each misstep, from the overzealous application of chicken broth to the pastry that’s more “rustic” than “refined,” is a step closer to enlightenment.

This, my friends, is where the true alchemy of learning occurs. Amid the chaos, with a kitchen that looks like a flour bomb detonated, knowledge takes root. It’s a process riddled with mishaps and occasional triumphs, celebrated with the gusto of a child who’s just built their first LEGO set without adult supervision.

So, when you’re next faced with the prospect of learning something new, be it the humble Chicken Pot Pie, the ancient art of origami, or the ins and outs of synchronized swimming, remember this: Real understanding doesn’t come from being a passive participant. It comes from diving headfirst into the fray, embracing the glorious pandemonium of hands-on learning.

In the end, your Chicken Pot Pie might look like it’s survived a minor explosion, and your origami swan might resemble a crumpled paper ball. But the journey, with its laughter and lessons, will be indelibly etched in your memory. Because, in the grand journey of life, it’s not the flawless execution that matters, but the joyous, messy, and utterly human process of trying.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.