The exhilaration of learning something new comes from the exquisitely adapted human survival system that rewards what is good for our survival. The modern commercial atmosphere we breathe hammers the message that pleasure is to be sought from the outside, from external things. And insofar as the environment is an endless source of things to be learned, that’s true. But maintaining demand for products says that consuming is the source of pleasure when in fact those satisfactions are from lower brain centers concerned with immediate bodily needs. They aren’t the high-grade pleasure of strengthening your power of survival. The reason there are such dense neuronal circuits between our highest powers of imagination and reasoning and the primary pleasure center is because that is what our brain evolved to do. It’s our best tool for survival. Being able to review our past and plan into the future enable us to work with larger scale patterns.
Intelligence grows with new skills not just because of the skills but because of the new patterns that open recognition of patterns not seen before. Since beginning my time with the potter’s wheel I’ve become more involved with the concept of spinning as an originating force, of becoming more aware of delicate degrees of pressure and continuous focused intention. In one of the Ted talks by “Millennial’s”, one theme emphasized that the twenties were key years for building the brain you want to have. The frontal lobes develop throughout the twenties, are not considered fully developed until thirty. Since the brain reflects how its used, this is the decade to create the brain with the choices made about what to think about, what to learn, what skills to master and what kinds of experiences will be most enriching. Learning stimulates endorphins, so the pleasure system encourages building knowledge and skills.
Illusionism is an unending source of learning. If I’m working on a long-term piece, by the end I can see flaws in the illusion done at the beginning. Skills can always be stretched so there’s no end to the possibilities. Illusionism is its own field of concepts. They grow what’s learned about the stages of processing, understanding what the priorities and salient features are. Every stage is a type of recognition. We recognize an edge, then separate the object we recognize from the surroundings. We recognize a friend and on up the scale of recognitions to the recognition of an answer or a discovery. “Aha” moments are among the peak human experiences. All peak experiences are about full involvement. That’s why so many of them involve maximum challenge, where there is no attention to spare for anything else. Illusionism is a lifelong opportunity for learning and refining
External pleasures don’t last long because they never went deep enough. The pleasure from new skills is in the acquisition of strength. It becomes part of us, a new resource that builds sensitivity and the confidence in our power to grow.