Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lifelong Love of Learning

A natural inclination towards slowness forces me to incorporate a strategy that many people wiser than myself teach and advocate.   The basic premise of this strategy is the concept of living your daily life guided by the standard of your personal "mission statement".  In other words,intentionally evaluating your life, deciding what you value most and then using those values to help you decide what things you deem significant enough to pursue, and which things, although possibly good things, should be left undone.

 I say that my bend toward slowness forces me to implement this because I simply am incapable of doing everything.  For better or worse it is just not a part of who I am.  Yet, I like everyone else do need to be purposeful in choosing which pursuits are most important and not just haphazardly allow my choices and schedule to be determined by default. At a later date I will share more about my mission statement, but for now I want to share a little about one facet in particular,

One of the tenets that guides my life is the passionate pursuit of life long learning. Having the ability and the opportunity to engage the world, to learn so many things in so many ways is a tremendous privilege.  It is a powerful privilege.  A privilege that I seek to cultivate.

Education and knowledge may seem common place. For many of us going to school, learning to read, having access to information is simply a part of being human.  So ordinary. As expected as breathing. It is so easy to forget that for much of the world these things that we take for granted are not a given. Many people have to fight and struggle in order to procure an education.  They long for knowledge and treasure the opportunity to learn.

Learning is a beautiful gift.  A gift that holds much potential and power.  A gift for young and old alike.  Not one to be discarded after graduation caps have been tossed and diplomas earned.  No, in fact I believe that when those days are done we are given the keys to an incredibly exciting and never ending adventure!

Every day we are presented with the choice to learn.  We learn from each other.  We learn from experiences.  We learn from books, and art, and music. Our resources are endless.  We are given the opportunity to dive into learning, to bask in the waves of knowledge and be saturated with it's beauty.

For each of us learning will look different. Part of the beauty of our world is the rich diversity created by the mosaic of different people. People with different interests and talents.  People full curiosity and questions. The important thing is not how you learn, instead what is important is that you are learning.  Find what intrigues you.  What piques your interest and leaves you longing to learn more? Find that thing and passionately pursue it.

I have recently been introduced to a new avenue of learning, and I have to say I love it! It has opened up a whole new world to me.

As many of you know, one of my passions is social justice.  I read all I can get my hands on regarding this topic.  I even began exploring the option of obtaining my Masters of Arts in Social Justice.  One evening Eric and I were discussing this option.  I was reminiscing with great affection the days in college when I could audit classes just because I wanted to learn the information. I could take the class not for the credit, but for the experience.  I wasn't motivated to learn because of the grade I would receive but purely for the knowledge I could glean.  It was beautiful.  Eric turned to me and casually said, "You know that you can take free college classes on line don't you?"  Wait! What?!  How did I not know this?

In fact, he is correct.  Renowned, major universities offer free courses on an endless array of topics. You can just sign up and begin learning!  You can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available to the course.  You work at your pace.  There are benefits to doing the class according to the prescribed schedule, but how you do the course is completely at your discretion.  It truly is an amazing resource!

There are several websites through which you can sign up for these courses.  Two that I recommend are and .   Currently, I am taking a course from Columbia University entitled The Age of Sustainable Development.  Thus far, it has been a tremendous growing experience.  I listen to the video lectures, I take notes, and I do the assigned reading.  The excitement of broadening my scope of understanding and gaining the tools to help build a more just and beautiful world is hard to capture with words.

I can hardly wait to take more courses.  The possibilities are endless.  This is a way of learning that excites me, it is not the only or the best way to pursue knowledge.  Maybe you have always wanted to learn how to play the piano.  Sign up for those lessons.  Maybe you would like to explore your genealogy.  Go to your library and discover the resources they have available.  Maybe you want to learn to cook or knit.  Find someone who has the skill you would like to cultivate and talk to them. (I may know someone who would love to help you with knitting, wink wink) Maybe you have secretly longed to learn a new language or learn how to fix a car.  Whatever it is that you would like to learn, take a step towards it. Give yourself, and the world around you, the gift of knowledge.

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