Strive To Be A Full Time Learner
I once met a man who began to learn the cello at 79 years old.
I was mesmerised and drawn to him because of his ability to pursue intellectual stimulation and continue to grow and learn during what is categorised as the autumn of life.
He had previously been a well respected Anaesthetist in a top hospital in Johannesburg, and by now was fully retired. During this time he wanted to set a new challenge, a new goal, a new purpose, as a way of feeling one very important feeling.
This was such a great lesson to me as I listened to him passionately relating the details of what his new skill had done to expand his world beyond the stuffy hospital environment he had worked in. I was drawn to his enthusiasm and excitement for actively setting time aside to create something new and different.
This begged the question;
When do we ever stop learning, growing, expanding in the way we did whilst we were children?
With that innate and hungry curiosity which invited adventure, exploration and fun.
It’s interesting that we spent the first 14 years of our life engaged in learning, studying, being told we have to know more, be more, achieve more.
Yet suddenly we reach an age where learning is no longer encouraged, admired or celebrated. In it’s place we divert our energies encouraging our children to study, achieve top grades at exams and become the best player in their school football practice.
But we leave our own self development encased and under lock and key.
Why have some of us given up exploring our own wants and needs?
Those of you who have reached mid life (I count myself within this category) often feel there is a need to pack up and suspend dreams, hopes and aspirations. In some cases transfer them to our children, so they can live it out for us instead.
What if we never stopped growing emotionally, psychologically and spiritually?
If we just continued to dream as a way of reaching out to what we desire. To unleash our true self, what had been left in the back burner whilst we attended to life. No matter what age we find ourselves doing this.
As I watched my teenage daughter set off for her much anticipated gap year, I wondered why as adults we don’t have a gap year.
After all, surely we deserve it more than the teens going off after only 18 roaming in this world. Other than school and countless exams, most of them don’t have enough stress, broken dreams and expectations to deserve this very expensive pursuit.
As adults we have been around for decades longer, accumulated more life miles, stress, work overload, expectations, broken marriages, and even bereavement. Surely we deserve a gap year to nurture ourselves, to self care, to reconnect with who we are.
As a way to get our bearings and welcome back that person who got lost wandering around in other peoples expectations of who we needed to become.
All those activities we never got to learn in our earlier years, such as playing an instrument, taking a dance class, sports, volunteering, learning about ourselves and exploring the world.
There is a time to take out our life compass and began to discover which location we find ourselves in.
After spending years nurturing and attending to a relationship, child rearing, work, elderly parents and all other extra responsibilities that life brings.
If we reach mid life stage virtually unscathed, we need a medal of honour, or as a gift, I believe the reward of a mid life gap year would be extremely welcomed.
A way to breathe and slow down to examine what we have spent the last 30 years creating. To reflect on whether we’re still going the direction we want to go.
Going back to the 79 year old Anaesthetist learning the Cello, it’s never too late to re-invent the wheel or ourselves, to explore those things we never tasted or were exposed to.
What stops you picking up a new instrument, exploring a different career choice, learning a new hobby, exposing yourself to an environment that’s new and different?
There’s almost a rebirth and reawakening of the self, some of the masks and the persona we sought to show others begins to peel off and a more authentic you comes into the forefront.
This person might be ready to play, free of inhibitions, constraints and rules. That inner parental voice telling us what we can and can’t attempt can be finally swept to one side and silenced once and for all.
There’s a letting go of perfection, striving for achievement and success, because we ultimately know there is nothing more to strive for, we are enough and worthy already.
When I hear conversations or marketing material bombarding us with the message that freedom is entrepreneurship or online businesses, I laugh at the assumption that freedom can be anywhere but in our mindset and how we choose to experience life.
Freedom is present constantly.
As adults we are free to choose what we want when we want it, but some of us still interact with life as if we’ve been imprisoned in some stiff upper class boarding school.
Freedom to choose to grow, expand and connect with all the incredible elements that we can continue learning beckons. It brings incredible gifts which has the potential to make you feel more alive, excited and energised. Take advantage whilst it’s still on offer, and you’re sill capable of choosing what you want with both hands.
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