The older I get the more I realize there are so many things I want to learn. Not in a formal, behind a desk in a classroom type situation. More of a life experience kind of way. Everyday there is something added to my list that I want to know. I don’t want to master everything. I mostly want to know how things work. I want to try things and decide if I want to pursue further or say, “I tried it and that was enough”. One thing that has been on my list is beekeeping. I so badly want to learn how to keep bees. I currently do not meet the property requirements to keep bees here in Minnesota, but I will still learn to the best of my abilities. I am hoping this summer to take a class to learn the basics. In the meantime, I tend a garden that is bee friendly and wait for my dreams of beekeeping to come true. Other smaller things on my “to learn” list include Adobe Illustrator, cabinet building and how to play hockey. I crossed a couple of my big items off the list this last year including throwing ceramics and teaching yoga. As we get older it sometimes seems harder to learn something new. Especially when so many thing demand attentions with our time and energy. Deciding to learn a new language or how to play guitar can seem daunting and almost impossible. I want to talk about why I feel it is important to keep learning and how to go about it if it has been awhile!
Being an adult, I am learning, is filled with a lot of adult responsibilities that warrant time. Between work, laundry, grocery shopping, and something I don’t have yet, children, the days are pretty jam packed. Not only are the days full but they can be tiring and emotionally draining. What many people do to unwind is come home and watch tv or jump on social media. I definitely do this, no judgement on my end. Television and the internet are both entertaining, and they don’t require much from us. We can let go of what the day had to offer. Sometimes though, the cycle becomes uninteresting. It becomes something we do out of habit as opposed to something we actually want to do. Once we reach this point, it can seem as though life is a little dull and there isn’t much spark. We follow our routine day in and day out. This is the time I find it important to reevaluate and consider learning something new.
When I decide it is time to pick up a new skill I go to the internet. Yes, I know I just said we shouldn’t just go to the internet to finish out our days, but this is different. I go to the internet and begin reading. I read anything and everything about the subject I want to learn. If there isn’t anything on my “to learn” list I browse the news or Pinterest in search of something to catch my eye. Once I have found what I want to learn I begin getting as much information about that thing as possible. I get information from the best learning resources, to the origin of the skill. If it is something that I can watch be done I go to Youtube and watch videos of people doing it. Seeing people be passionate about what they enjoy doing is exhilarating to watch. When I first started having an interest in ceramics, I spent hours watching people throw clay and explain what they were doing. It still blows my mind how talented people are in the craft, but now that I have done it, I have a new found appreciate and admiration for others that do it. Watching the videos also helped when I went to learn ceramics because I had a general idea about the words that would be used and what they meant. Finding out the basic information before really jumping into learning can be helpful in determining if it is something you want to invest time and resources in.
Once you determine what you want to learn, the next step is to dive into it. Take your research further. Read books, watch videos, talk to people that do it, take a class. Just do it. Commit time to learning. This can be a daily, weekly monthly, or even a one-week full immersion commitment. Say yes and continue doing it. Don’t let old habits stop you from taking on a new project. Another thing that may get in the way when deciding to learn something new is ourselves. We can get in the cycle of saying things like; “I don’t have time”, “I will never need this information”, “I’m not young enough to start this”. Don’t let the fear stop you from what you want to do. Remind yourself that you aren’t quitting your regular job to go play the guitar in Costa Rica (if you are, congrats!), all you are doing is learning something new. Acknowledge the fear and remind it that you are in control. That everything will be okay. Another thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be perfect from the get-go. Your ceramics will be lopsided, the songs on the piano will be slow and wrong notes will be hit, you may not understand a formula that is vital to the equation, your Spanish is incomprehensible. Part of learning is starting from the beginning and getting better as time goes on. If you quit in the beginning stages, you will never know if you can do it (hint: you can).
So much can come from taking the time to learn something new. You keep your brain fresh by challenging it. You may light a fire in you that has been missing. I enjoy having a random skill to shock people with at parties, like knowing how to build a cedar strip canoe. My all-time favorite thing that I take from leaning is the people that I do it with. I have activities that I do with my significant other. I love that we can share a common interest and learn together. So maybe you decide you want to take up learning an instrument with your child or a foreign language with your spouse. Making it a family activity may help you stay committed. If you decide you are learning something solo, the people you will meet on that journey will keep it interesting. There is always a following to a craft or skill, the people that share the same interest may be the tribe you were waiting for. Even if you decide it isn’t for you, you still learned something. The point is that no matter what you decide to learn, in the end it will be worth it. Take the chance and see what happens!