When you keep learning, the world and your mind reach beyond the limits of your imagination.
Our reality has strung out into endless days of worry, anger, and uncertainty. Sadness overtook our normal joyful demeanor. What should we do to break the spell?
The best thing for being sad replied Merlin … is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King
Summer in Southeast Texas is hot and muggy—with an emphasis on muggy. You can feel the weight of the heat as sweat drips from your forehead, and you’ve been outside for less than five minutes.
When I came across Merlin’s advice to the young Arthur, I realized that learning can cast a delightful spell on an otherwise scorching day. What are the benefits of learning?
Better yet, what is the benefit of remaining a learner?
One of the promises I made to myself long ago was to never, ever stop learning. I want to reach into the unknown and stretch the limits of my curiosity. I have three main reasons to learn. You may have others that speak to you, but whatever your reasons, keep learning.
Three reasons you should stay a learner
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable—regardless of physical capacity.
I can’t stop the wrinkles from forming or the years from passing. But I can keep my brain youthful by continuously learning something novel every day. That could be a puzzle or learning new words.
In the past couple of weeks, I bought the supplies for loom knitting. The online instructions made it look simple—even a child could do this. Well, it took a child to help me lace the yarn over the pegs correctly and slip one row of yarn over the other. That project is progressing, slowly. Some learning takes longer.
My granddaughter bought a ukulele while at camp. The ukulele I had in college went missing as our children went off to college. I think it landed in someone’s footlocker never to return. The yearning for that unique sweet sound led me to take on learning, or actually, re-learning to play the ukulele. I’ll report back on how that goes.
Reason 2: Learning leads to giving
When you learn, teach. When you get, give.
Every time I read a book, learn something new, discover a little known fact, I now have something to give to others. I learned how little I knew when I began teaching. For the first time, I had to take the knowledge I acquired and transform it into something tangible.
Regurgitating facts is not teaching. I create possibilities for the imagination. According to Marva Collins, “The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.”
Reason 3: Learning is fun
What we learn with pleasure we never forget.
Have you ever watched young children learn? It looks a lot like playing. Small hands build and create. They explore the world around them with intense curiosity. Learning for them occurs every moment in their day, and they have fun.
Somewhere in the course of our education, some harsh voice seeped into our brain telling us another story. Learning became hard and serious. Yes, sometimes learning requires great concentration and commitment to the task. Once accomplished the exhilaration of mastering something new leaves me light-hearted and delighted.
Another thought to take away
We often think that only the bright, gifted, or privileged can learn. Learning has no boundaries, no race, no limitations. Anyone, anywhere, at any time can be and become more than they ever dreamed possible. We can all learn—if we chose to become a learner.
Ted Giesel has made learning fun for millions of children and adults. Remember this…
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
—Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go