Monday, September 7, 2009

Learn today, learn tomorrow and always

My beloved and I had the chance to babysit our grandson yesterday. It is always a fun time for us as we get to watch him explore the world around him. He is now slightly more than five months old; essentially a blank slate. We were outside on the deck and as 'Maw-Maw' (as she is affectionately monikered) was feeding the little whipper she noticed his eye caught a plane flying overhead. He watched it intently as he continued to suck, until it was out of view.

I thought that was fascinating. It then occurred to me, people are meant to learn. It's what they do from their earliest moments. Everything is new and unexplored. Their minds absorb every sight, sound and feeling. That may escape us because it is some time before they are able to organize themselves. First comes facial recognition of the parents as that is obvious as my son returns and my grandson just lights up. Then it is recognition for us and others that surround him on a daily basis. Then it is things to be explored.

As he is not yet crawling but is able to roll, I watched him study our golden retriever who was just out of reach. He stared intently as she just lay there letting the world go by. You could almost see his intent of wanting to explore; what is this big shaggy thing in front of me? I need to touch, I need to see, I need to learn. It is not something frightening, it is curiosity at it's purest.

At some point in our lives learning begins to take a back seat to everything else. I think it starts unfortunately in school as learning becomes a chore. It is the expected job of every child to go to school. It becomes a mandate. Hopefully, that gets pushed aside and each child finds a focus that will propel them through high school and beyond. But then comes making your way in the real world. Too often we are distracted by life and it's demands both personal and professional and we no longer take the time to learn. I'm not speaking necessarily of formal learning. Not everything needs to be done in a classroom or formalized setting. Opportunities abound. Pick up a book, read a newspaper or on-line article. Get your mind involved in something other than your daily routines.

It has been many years since I needed to work an algebra problem. I hadn't looked at a math book since my days in college. This past spring I drove to a used book store on my lunch and purchased an advanced mathematics book. My Beloved and our sassy little neighbor Mrs. Doogles both thought I was insane. "What are you going to do with that?" "I'm going to read it," I replied.

It is what we do, it is what we are. Never stop learning and never stop growing. When you give up you begin to wither, when you wither you lose hope. Hope and strength come from the mind and all the wonderful things within.

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