Education

“As If You Were to Live Forever”

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful that I’m still learning. My brain had to kick things up a notch or two during this past month in a multitude of ways. I’m happy to report that so far, it’s been equal to the task. At least, no one has complained about my progress so far.

I don't think of myself as middle-aged, but in my second young-adulthood.

Describes exactly how I see myself.

I don’t learn things like other people do. I’m not good at simply memorizing words or facts. My brain needs to wrap itself around the whole concept, the what, the why, the relationships, the where is this going, the sense of it all before I can grasp specifics.

(From what I can tell most people need specifics first, then the whole kind of falls into place.)

Once I get the big picture then the little parts of the picture sync nicely into logical order. Understanding dawns, and my mouth says, “Ah, ha!!” I get a little chill up my spine when something new clicks in my head.

I keep thinking I’m going to get brave and sign up for one of those free online courses from the library, but then I chicken out. Not sure why. Time constraints mostly, I suppose. Plus it’d be an almost public failure if I tanked while trying it.

A few of my favorite textbooks.

A few of my favorite textbooks.

What I’d really love is to be one of those old ladies, twenty or thirty or even forty years from now, sitting in a college class full of eighteen to twenty-two year olds, soaking in knowledge like a student on spring break soaking up the sun. I loved school, (the learning part of it, not the social part of it,) as a kid. I loved college as an almost adult. I loved college as a returning student after five years away from it.

Of course, now it’s not even necessary to go to a classroom to get that sort of learning. But there’s something about interaction with real live people in person that gets my heart pumping and makes me smile all the way to my toes. And the discussion afterwards with a professor reminds me of dessert bars on a cruise ship, absolutely heavenly!

I must sound like such a nerd.

That’s okay. At least my brain isn’t shrinking or empty.

If I ever get to the point where learning doesn’t happen, just set me out to pasture and leave me alone to munch on my granola and yogurt while staring at the horizon. Or better yet, put me out of my misery.

Ah, learning! How do I love thee? Let me do a little math and I’ll get back to you.

 

Two quotes from a couple of brilliant dudes:

 

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”  ~ Albert Einstein

and

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Education, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

What I Know, A Very Short Treatise

At age eighteen I thought I knew so much. That may have been true if you compared me to other eighteen year olds. I read more than the average teen. I took Advanced Placement classes. I took life pretty seriously, and yet, at the time I enjoyed myself. I had some brainy and quick-witted friends.

Ten years after that I looked back at my oh-so-wise-in-my-own-eyes teen self and shook my head. What a naïve girl! A lifetime of non-book learning seemed to occur in those ten short years. I’d put in some college time, sure, but I didn’t learn much the first time as a freshman. Who does, right? Distracted by trying to pay for the privilege of being there, I missed out on a ton of fun and opportunities. I had the dumbest work hours. Missed all the parties, missed all the camaraderie, missed learning how to get along with people.

Then I got to go back to school as a slightly older student and I soaked it all in like a sandbox and water. I had a couple of writing classes that kickstarted me in the sanity direction that words spilling out on paper became.

photo 2-1

One professor in particular encouraged and praised my writing beyond anything I’m sure I deserved. I reread that stuff and wonder how he ever saw potential there. His last  bit of advice to me hit me like an anvil dropped from an outcropping cliff by a road runner. Mind you, as a twenty-five year old mother of two I thought I had some life under my belt.

He said, and I paraphrase, “You’ve got real talent there. Give yourself ten or twenty years of life experience and then you’ll really be a great writer.”

It was like getting a hug while a wearing a burr covered shirt. Ouch!

No, I didn’t set out to live some amazing life of adventure. Having children and my particular husband served well as adventure fodder and life experience. “Sure it is,” you’re thinking as you shake your head “no.”

Let me just insert here that after that first move which pulled me out of college one year shy of a bachelor’s degree, we moved eleven times and added two more children to the mix. From the Northwest to the Southeast to the West to the Midwest and then back to the West. Include a couple or more bounces in each region. Add in two stints of wearing out various relatives for several months in between homes.

I’ve met a wide variety of people. Granted, most of them are American, but not all of them. I learned to get along with people, make friends quickly, climb out of my shell, ask questions, act independently and confidently and navigate the weirdest roads without a smartphone or GPS.

Throw in life’s natural disasters and dramas add a generous mix of teenage angst and a bit of insanity from several directions. What you have several decades later is one woman with a head filled to overflowing with experience but not necessarily wisdom trying to make sense of what she’s done with and to her life.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

I look at what I thought I knew in my thirties and shake my head in embarrassment. I look at what I thought I’d figured out in my forties and hide my head and shudder. I look at what I think I know now and at least I know that I know very little.

You know who really knows what’s what? People nearly twice my age. People ten years older than me, twenty years, thirty years older. Where is their wisdom? Why aren’t they out there blogging, writing, sharing, spilling, imparting, enlightening?

Oh yeah, because anyone younger thinks they’ve got it all figured out and they don’t pay attention. Including me to an extent.

What a dingbat.

I know some thirteen year olds who swear I know nothing about the real world. Eh, maybe. But I’m pretty sure I’d beat them in almost any game of life put to the both of us.

There’s no convincing anyone. You have to come to that conclusion yourself.

How?

By getting older. By living.

By time you figure it out, it’s too late to profit much from the wisdom of any other person. Unless you’re willing humble yourself and listen. And then follow through.

Is that what the great circle of life really is? Learning that the stove is hot by getting burned? Figuring out the water is too deep and fast by wading in and being swept away?

I suppose to some extent there’s no way to replace experience. But there’s a few thing I would rather not have had to learn.

And I’m certain there’s more on the horizon I still don’t want to learn. I wish I could just read a book on whatever it is and take a test.

I guess I’ll try to relax and breathe deeply, so when the vehicle starts to roll, or the avalanche lets loose, or the tornado hits, or life spins wildly into vertigo I won’t get too banged up.

Anyone want to volunteer for me? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Katniss?

Ah, well. Life isn’t a novel, or a movie.

Age

Age (Photo credit: garryknight)

In the meantime, I’ll write about it all, a little hear, a little there. I’ll try to make sense of it and share what I can along the way.

You’re welcome to take it or leave it.

I don’t really know all that much, after all.

Categories: Education, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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