It hit me this morning as I was washing the breakfast dishes: I wasn't thinking about washing the dishes. I was just washing the dishes. My hands knew what to do. Hot water, a bit of soap, the bottle brush and dishcloth. It all just seemed to happen without my having to do a thing. Yes, I had to decide to actually wash the dishes. I could have left them in the sink, stacked up. I might have filled the sink with water to let them soak until I felt like washing them, but I made the decision to just go ahead and wash the dang dishes.
I don't remember learning how to wash the dishes. I do remember times when I was washing the dishes as a kid I would hear my grandmother from the other room shouting, "That water isn't hot enough!" or "You need to scrub harder or that dried egg will not come off!" I still hear her voice every morning in spite of the fact I have heard that piping hot, hand scalding water is not necessary if you are using anti-bacterial dishsoap with maybe a bit of bleach. Dove is my go-to choice. (Dove is the choice of marine biologists to cleanse the feathers of birds who have been exposed to tar and oil during an off-shore oil spill. More info.)
So I guess washing dishes became automatic. I did it without having to think. I likened it to when I learned to type in high school. Anyone in the AP classes needed to learn to type because there would be hundreds of papers in their future. Typing was mandatory. Now of course keyboarding is prerequisite to survival. Hunt and peck doesn't work. Anyone with a laptop, computer, even a cell phone, needs to learn the QWERTY system. What's remarkable is that repetition and practice, your fingers seem to learn where the letters are to commit your thoughts and messages to paper. And I learned this in spite of my own resistance to actually learning.
This is how I learn: I get out of my way and just do it. Seems to be a recurring theme these days. They say to establish a new way to do something or create a new habit it takes repeating it for seven or twenty-one days. Then it becomes second nature. And there's the key that starts the train in the brain to learning: practice, repetition, rote. I practiced my alphabet, my multiplication tables, riding a bike and saying my prayers. To this date, I can just default to my implicit muscle memory.. What a deal! The brain train is leaving the station. All aboard!