solve et coagula



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I have always been adept at deconstructing and reconstructing things. There was that time I found a .25 caliber pistol. I had never handled a pistol before. I analyzed it, determined where the safety was, how to remove the clip, how to clear the chamber, and before long I had the thing field stripped down to even removing the little wooden plates from the grip. I had no text, no supervision. I was able to reassemble it quickly and completely, and found that it fired perfectly.

I have approached many things in my life like this. I learned a trade as a young man, not by taking an apprenticeship, but by watching a fellow perform for a couple of days until he put the wrench in my hand and said “do”. I was able to earn a living at that for many years, eventually earned a contractors license, and all without formal training.

My approach to music is similar to my gun reconstruction story. I never took a formal guitar lesson. I figured it out because I wanted to know. I would find a song I liked, get it copied to cassette tape, and playback short passages again and again until I could determine the appropriate fingerings. As technology became available, I moved on from audio cassettes to VHS. I later took music theory in college, and can read music, but I primarily learn by listening, analyzing, observing until I master it. I’ve used this approach to become familiar with guitar, dobro, bass, keyboards, woodwinds, and drums.

My journey into Information Technology is another example. I’m not university trained. I was handed down many broken computers back in the 1990s, and I was determined to bring them to life. I eventually built my own Digital Audio Workstation (audio evidence on the Music page) and not long after that became gainfully employed as an “IT Guy”. After a few years doing that, I fell backwards into a cyber security role. I wasn’t versed at all in NIST, PCI, or ISO 27001, but out of necessity and interest I became adept and on my way to earning CISSP certification.

My latest experiment is learning the Russian language. I’m not taking a class. I am instead using several applications, drills, watching videos, reading texts, and communicating with patient and willing Russians. I make mistakes, break ‘em down, put ‘em back together, moving closer to the essence with each attempt. Analyze. Observe. Solve. Coagula.

Solve et coagula. It’s a Latin term roughly meaning to dissolve and solidify. It’s often used regarding spirituality, breaking down ones essence to dissolve the negative states and reintegrating the parts into a purified whole. It is alchemy, the process the ancients undertook, attempting to turn lead of the human condition to spiritual gold. Even in the mundane act of my physical experiments like disassembling a pistol and successfully reassembling it, my mind and spirit become stronger, agile, more confident.

Does this mean I’m an expert, a master of everything I’ve laid hands on? No, not at all. Am I saying that what I’ve described here is unique to my path?. Absolutely not. It does suggest I’m getting closer, making my own way through the fog. Maybe you have a similar experience?
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021 by dobrohaxxor
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