I already know how to read. And write. I can ride a bike, speak French, drive a manual transmission, knit, and a whole host of other things. You do too, of course, though your list will differ from mine.
The rub is, though, that I learned all those things a long time ago. When you’re young, you learn things all the time, but when you’re not so young and not in school, you know a lot but you don’t learn as constantly or as much. (And it’s not because you know everything!) Yes, you learn practical things like shutting down a recalcitrant computer or where to put jumper cables after you left the interior light on overnight. But that’s different.
I was lamenting – okay, maybe I was whining a tiny bit – about how I miss learning. A friend asked me the obvious question, “Well, Carole, what kinds of things would you be interested in learning?” In other words, “Put up or shut up.” And I knew right away. Calculus, which had defeated me in college, even though I’d been a math whiz in high school. Or maybe music theory, which I’d never learned, even though I play the violin.
The next obvious question: “What’s keeping you from learning them now?” Second verse, same as the first: “Put up or shut up.”
As it turns out, a friend also wanted to learn music theory and she knew someone who could teach us. So Marilyn and I have a one-hour weekly lesson, with homework in between. I even got school supplies: manuscript paper, a binder, a nice dark pencil.
My brain is moving in ways it hasn’t moved for a while. It’s difficult. It’s wonderful. It takes concentration and focus. It’s tiring. It’s stimulating. It’s very cerebral, and there’s actually a lot of math involved, too. It’s like traveling: being exposed to something you hadn’t experienced before.
This is not the same as a bucket list. It’s not a place I want to go or a particular experience I want to have. It’s the learning that’s important. And thrilling, even more than the actual content. I highly recommend it. So I ask you the question my friend asked me: What would you like to learn? And are you at the “Put up or Shut-Up” point?
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