Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Never Stop Learning

I had planned to start another 37 Day project on learning, in which I would strive to learn something new, be it a life lesson or interesting information, every day for 37 days.  But as I sat down to write, it occurred to me that every day is a lesson and learning happens every day, both consciously and subconsciously; it's not something that can be contained in just 37 days.  The next thought that struck me was the question, "Well, what have you learned in the last month?"

What initially touched off this project was that I signed up for a class on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which has held my interest ever since I read Memoirs of a Geisha. I was really looking forward to it and had planned to write about my experience and everything that I learned.  Then the day of the class arrived and everything went haywire -- my ex didn't show up to get the kids when he was supposed to, my parents dropped by unexpectedly, and due to a budgeting error, I didn't have enough money for the class. It was frustrating and disappointing. At the end of the day when everyone left and things were quiet, I compared my plans for the day with what actually happened. What I learned was that even though taking that class would've been a real treat and the opportunity to immerse myself in something totally new, sometimes it's better to spend time with those you love instead. As it turns out, my family and I ended up exploring a part of town that none of us had been to in many years and discovered a whole treasure box of shops and restaurants that we never knew existed.

Last month I went to a beekeeping class, which is also something that holds my interest.  The biggest nugget of knowledge that I took away from the class was that the majority of honey sold commercially in big box stores is imported from other countries with very lax standards on quality, and that honey is so processed that it retains very little of its original benefits. That knowledge stirred a passion in me to be more of an advocate for consumption of local goods. What I learned is that having knowledge and not using it is like carrying a flashlight in the dark and not turning it on - pointless.

I wrote recently about how I came across a profile on an online dating site that really knocked my socks off and I took away 10 lessons from reading it.  One of the lessons I gleaned from that profile is that it's important to do what you love, and that lesson acted as a precipitator toward pursuing a job that is much more meaningful to me than just a paycheck.  What that experience taught me was that inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time, and make you question yourself as to whether you are really doing your absolute best.

So to answer my own question about what I have learned in the past 37 days, I would have to say that I learned some pretty important things:
1. Just because things don't turn out the way you planned doesn't mean the experience has to be negative.  Cherish your loved ones, don't take them for granted, and be thankful for all the moments you have together to create memories.
2. Knowledge is power, but only when it is shared in a positive way. The knowledge you possess may just be the exact thing someone else needs to hear.
3. When there is a question that needs an answer, the answers are everywhere, sometimes hiding in plain sight or showing up in unexpected places. But if you are receptive to the answers the universe has to offer, you may end up learning the answers to questions you never even knew existed.

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