The Linoleum Effect

Posted April 6, 2016 @ 2:19pm | by Tripp

Many years ago I studied martial arts. Taekwondo, to be precise. My teacher had many pithy sayings that I remember to this day. One of my favorite sayings was actually more of a concept than a saying. He would talk about “the linoleum effect.”

It goes something like this: as you learn new things it is common for the things you learned earlier on to become rusty. We forget the foundational skills as we learn more advanced skills. Like linoleum, what we previously studied seems to roll up behind us. We have to then turn around and once again give our attention to the things of the past; old skills, familiar ideas, or, as I presently understand it, the reasons we were doing anything we do in the first place.


I’ve taken this discipline very seriously over the years returning again and again to the ideas and practices that got me in this PhD/music/pastor mess in the first place. Lately, this discipline has been revealing itself as a desire for a lute.

That’s right. A lute. What?


The thing that got me into music and church and religious studies in general was the sound of what some call “early music.” Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Monteverdi, de Lassus were the composers who captured my imagination and nourished my soul. The Hillier Ensemble, The Baltimore Consort, and The Kings Singers were constant companions while my friends were up to their eyeballs in grunge.

If Dave Grohl had only been a lutanist…


At any rate, here in middle age I find myself a novice many times over. I am a student, a new parent, and a recent confirmand in the Episcopal Church. There’s so much to reconsider. There’s so much linoleum rolling up behind me.

At the same time, I am not a novice. I am bringing much to bear on these new endeavors; years of work and practice.

Lately, I have been considering what needs my attention most. Where can I nurture new growth among the old growth?

What are the new practices for a new foundation? How might I shore up the old?

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