The Challenge: Learn Something New!

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. 
– Ghandi –

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How fortunate are the ones who at least once a day can exclaim, “I did not know that!” What a privilege to be able to walk with our eyes open, with a sense of wonder, and hopefully with enough humility to recognise that our specific field of knowledge is minuscule, no matter how well educated we are. There is always more to learn.

Most of us have a very broad understanding of the world around us. We may specialise in one or two areas of study, but it is a wise person who adopts a posture of learning that lasts a lifetime. We can all discipline and train our minds to think critically and to ask key questions. Practicing mindfulness helps us slow down, open our eyes, breathe and learn. It is also one of the best things we can do for our health and well-being.

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We recently relocated to the Sunshine Coast from Melbourne. In this new place, I am learning something new every day. For example, I discovered that I could have spared myself the freak-out meltdown when I found a tick burrowing itself into my hip. A calm Queensland nurse informed me that this is not of the virulent type I encountered in South Africa. I was ecstatic. I would have hated to have been taken by a tick … that would have just ticked me off (sorry, I had to!)

I learnt that the people who live here are relaxed, compared to this adrenaline-driven Southerner. That they keep pet pigs to keep “the JW’s from knocking on my door” and they say “F..k” really loudly as it keeps their pious, Christian neighbour at bay. I also discovered that they are infatuated with the word “but”. In this sunny part of the world it is placed at the end of sentences. Which sounds a tad strange but.

I learnt that there is a cool breeze that blows every afternoon in this warm, hilly place that I now call home. I anticipate its arrival and welcome my new friend.

I also learnt that there are people who really go out of their way to make you feel welcome in a new place. Thank you to those salt-of-the-earth folk who brought so much love, kindness, food and wine. For someone in major life transition, you have been angels in disguise.

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It truly is a wonderful thing to discover that we may have been ignorant in some areas. How easily we allow paradigms and ideals to become deeply embedded in our psyche without question. Especially, it seems, if those ideas are delivered by people we see as ‘experts’. The good news is that we are allowed to do our own research and investigation. We are given full permission.

So what new things are you learning?

According to Dustin Wax, learning something new:

– Gives us a range of perspectives to call on every day.
– Helps us to adapt to new situations.
– Feeds innovation by inspiring us to think creatively.
– Deepens our character and makes us more inspiring (and less arrogant!).
– Creates confidence.
– Helps us broaden our understanding of historical, social, and natural processes.

(His blog also provides tips on expanding your horizon)

So, dear friend, it’s time to become uncomfortable and stretch the brain and the imagination. Maybe cares and concerns have clouded your ability to dream and reflect? I empathise, as I know that feeling well. It is difficult to consider learning something new when we are barely coping with the present and what we do know!

A friend recently said to me, “There are many times in life when we need to be brave”. As you stand tall, adjust your eyes and follow your heart, may you be brave and discover the beauty of wonder. Here is my challenge to you: Learn Something New Today.

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4 comments

  1. Lance Sterling -

    I am a young guy trapped in an old body. I live my life in a state of what I can only describe as ‘creative tension’. When looking for a place to serve my church it was suggested I join The Senior’s Meetings. O.M.G I nearly went crazy meeting people my own age that were only looking in the rear view mirror with a philosophy of ‘been there, done that’, and ‘this is how we have always done it’, or ‘it’s my time now’. I am learning so much every day, sometimes by just listening. I no longer speak of my age in terms of Fahrenheit (78) but Celsius (24). That way I kid myself I am just a young guy with a lot to learn.

    • Mugwump -

      Good on you, Lance! I think learning agility and a posture to remain open has nothing to do with age and everything to do with mind and heart. The most switched-on, intelligent conversations I have held have been with folks much older than me – I want to be like that as I age.

  2. Cilla -

    Woohoo! The Sunshine Coast , can it get any better?
    We are also setting up for change. Thursday we are heading down south to a town called Toulouse ( you may know it) just to check out the possibilities for us and our now “small” family. (Our three boys ) have all left the “nest” now. The perspective of learning new things and ways are both exciting and scary….
    Thanks for sharing your experience
    Cillaxx

    • Mugwump -

      To Toulouse! I pray that your next chapter is filled with the joy of a new adventure. I still can’t believe you are the mother of 3 grown men!!! xx

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