I am a huge fan of learning. I am a lifelong learner. Don’t confuse that with being a lifelong student, as in someone who’s racking up the student loans and will pass those on to their kids and grandkids for about three generations. I prefer to learn more organically than just in a classroom.
I’ve always been that person if you ask me something and I didn’t know it, I would look it up. I was raised in a time before Google existed. So looking things up meant finding an encyclopedia, a dictionary, or making a trip to the library. Thankfully for me, my parents had a ridiculous amount of books when I was growing up on various subjects. My dad has a large collection of sports, history, and geography books. I could pretty much look anything up just out of my dad’s collections of books.
The accessibility of the internet makes things infinitely easier. And unfortunately, infinitely easier means now you have to sort through the information before taking it at face value. Part of learning is having to decipher what is accurate, what is legend, and what is just downright wrong.
A big thing you’ll see on the internet, specifically social media, is the sharing of knowledge. I love the sharing of knowledge. I love that we can do that. Not just with books and newspapers and magazine, but with articles and information. The speed of which it can spread is incredible. And sometimes it’s incredibly scary. It’s easier to hit the share button than it is to to research. It’s faster, too. There’s practically no effort im hitting the share button. It doesn’t take much to share information, whether it’s correct or not. In fact, I’ve actually seen wrong information travels faster than right information.
There’s a saying that goes, “Snopes it before you post it.” Snopes is still a reliable source to determine if something is accurate or not. Politically, they have their leanings. I would still use them to verify nok political news. I would also still do more research before just going to one source.
That’s one of the things that I love about learning. It’s like what I said with the podcasts earlier – don’t just go to one. You don’t read just one author. You don’t watch just one TV show. You shouldn’t get your information from one place or source. It is really dangerous to have all your information based off of what one person, place, or entity is telling you. I think that’s why whenever you do a term paper in school they have you site between three to five sources of information. I think it’s a really good rule of thumb for anything. I don’t think you should just be able to say, “Well, I saw it on CNN. I saw it on Fox News. I read it on the Times.”
Do a little bit more research. Go out and learn. Learn the facts for yourself. The beautiful thing about facts is no matter how we feel about them, facts don’t change. Facts don’t have feelings. Facts don’t care about your feelings. It’s facts.
One of my friends calls me Google because I have random facts that run through my head. I think if you go out and learn the information yourself instead of having you tell you that information, it’s like you earned it. You earned that learning. I don’t know if maybe the reason I like researching and learning new things is because I’m a writer. Or am I a writer because I like doing those other things? I mean I really didn’t know anything about narcissism and abuse except for what my experiences were. It was only through the research of that and what other people dealt with in their experiences that I learned enough to write a book about it. When I was writing my last book, “The Tacher’s Ghost,” I asked several friends of mine who are teachers in the public school system what their experiences were. I asked about what their first days were like, what their interviews for the job were like, what they have to do to prepare their rooms. I asked these questions because I’m not a teacher. I don’t have experience in that kind of thing and I wanted the most information to make it as real as possible. My main character was a teacher and it was her first time teaching ever. So I asked multiple people that I know their experiences were. I was able to mix it all together and make a fairly realistic experience for my main character.
I think that’s why I really do like writing. It’s an opportunity to learn new things. I can put things that I already know into practice. I’ve tried to share that love of research with my kids. I do see that in the Bunny. Sometimes the things she researches I’m not really okay with. Two Christmases ago, she and her sister were researching Ed Gein. They made a little project and presentation, complete with pictures. I was impressed and disgusted with it all at the same time. She researches other things though techniques for drawing, about Japanese culture, and what her favorite YouTube’s childhood pet’s name was. Now if only she would do sk much research for her school work as she does things that don’t matter right now. I had her research about parakeets before I got her one. I wanted her to be as prepared as possible for a new pet in the house.
I like having the opportunity to learn new things. My husband’s going through learning new things right now. He’s been taking information technology classes. He graduated back in August but he’s still learning some new things. He’s bee trying to brush up on his skills to be prepared for a new job. I’ve noticed after he watches a video or lesson or reads a chapter in his book, when I get home from work he’ll explain to me what he had learned. I’d heard it explained really well like this: if you know something and can explain it to someone else in its simplest terms, and that other person can understand it, you know it well enough yourself that you can teach it. At first, I couldn’t understand why he was telling me these things. Technology and I, we don’t get along so well. It’s really sad because my dad was a computer programmer for the department of defense for twenty five years. You would think I inherited some knowledge of computers, but that’s never never happened. My husband explaining what he’s learned sometimes can be like me trying to figure out where the landing gear is on an airplane and how to deploy it. I know it when I see it. I can tell you how to find it. But I have no clue how it works. Through my husband’s patience and understanding, I am picking up on some stuff that he’s been telling me. I think that’s pretty cool. That says a lot about him more than it does me. I’m pretty proud of him.
He’s another lifelong learner; he values knowledge and information. And at forty five years old he decided to go back to school. That takes a lot of guts. I know a lot of people think, “Oh, by forty five you should already be settled down in your career and making a hundred thousand dollars a year. It doesn’t work that way anymore. Sometimes when you go into college at eighteen years old, you’re doing what everyone else told you you should be doing. You’re studying what other people wanted you to study. And after trying to fit your star-shaped sparkly butt into everyone else’s square holes and figuring out that’s not working for you, you find a star shaped hole to sit in. Sometimes that star shaped hole is in the Information Technology field.
My star shape is labeled writing. I thought it was child care, teaching, marine biology, and theater. It turns out, those were just diamonds. We all know what diamonds are. Diamonds are just lumps of coal that got dressed up. They twinkle and shine, but in the end, they are just lumps of coal. Stars are made of the same stuff that makes up the universe. Stars are what we’re made out of. We have Stardust in our souls.
And it is scary when you find that star-shaped hole and hope that you fit into it. That’s when you’re going to have to learn new things. Some things you may have already known but they have changed. The biggest things that you’re going to learn aren’t going to come from a textbook, website, or lecture from your professor. The most important things you’re going to learn along your journey are going to be of finding yourself. Those things are going to be about you. You’re going to learn what you’re made of. You’re going to learn your strengths and your weaknesses and how to turn those weaknesses into strengths. You will find what your breaking point is and you’re going to learn how to push that farther away from you.
I would like to say that success teaches things like what worked. But you’re going to learn so much more from your failures than anything else. Through your failures you are going to find out not only what didn’t work, but you will find out how to change that, how to adapt, and who’s with you during those darker times
You’re going to learn who your real friends and family are. When life is piling stones on top of you, are they helping you by taking some stones off. Or are they helping pile more weight on. This may be the point when you learn how to cut toxic people out of your life.
Learning doesn’t just happen in buildings with one individual standing in front of a chalkboard. Learning isn’t just books. It is so much more than what’s available on the internet. There’s so much trash on the internet. Fake news doesn’t even cover it. Learning is experience, inspiration, motivation, and frustration. Learning is what propels you passed the frustration. The motivation to know more is what gets you from point A to point B. It may not always be a straight line; your point B might wind up being Point Z. But learning is the path that gets you there.
I love learning new things, whether it’s a new recipe or a new way to decorate for the holidays or just a new DIY kind of thing. I am always learning something new everyday. I’ve been at my job for seven months. I just learned the other day that one of the codes we use on our cases impacts which queue a case goes into. That may not mean anything to you cats. But to me, that is huge, because that means I could have been sending cases to the wrong places and that’s why they took so long to get taken care of. Now that I know better I can do better.
And that’s the glory and wonder of learning. When you know better, you can do better. When you do better, you are becoming better. You can be better. You can be your best self if you never stop learning things. Never stop being curious. Never stop learning. Chsnnel your inner three year old. Ask, “Why?” and then find out. Get in touch with that inner child that asks why the sky is blue and why the ocean is salty. Why do men lose their hair? Why do men have nipples? Why do men not lose hair on their nipples? When you ask these questions, find out the answers.
Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school. We are in a time right now when information is coming at us from all direction. We have to filter what is coming into our heads because there is a lot of junk out there. I mean, do we really need to know that Bongo cat died? No. Do I need to know that Vanna White wrote a book? No. But that information is up there. I don’t know why. I don’t know how it got up there. But, it is trapped up in the labyrinth o my brain. I’m not saying try to keep up with all the information that’s coming at you; that would be absolutely madness and impossible. You would drive yourself crazy trying to keep up and filter out everything that’s not actually news and information and worth knowing.
Maybe just once a day if you hear something that makes you question it, makes you think, makes you wonder, then look it up. Look up the facts. Find the figures. Find the numbers. Find the truth. It’s out there.
Maybe the truth might make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe the truth will cause a cognitive dissonance in your brain. The truth might make you mad; that’s okay. It’s like I said eatlier about the truth: The truth doesn’t care about your feelings. That’s why it’s the truth.
So today, I will make an effort to learn more things. I don’t know if it’ll be something from Pinterest or if it’ll be something political or scientific. It could be writing craft related. I don’t know what I’m going to learn today but I know I will ask the big questions. I will ask who was involved, what happened, when did it happen, where did it happen, and what did it affect. I will listen to my children’s questions, and show them how to look up the answers for themseves. Hopefully, I will spark their curiosity as well. And I hope when the time comes, they will do the research needed to put me in a good nursing home and not just go based on what they hear from their friends. I may learn a new stitch on my loom. I may learn new information technology from my husband. I may just learn a new way to make cookies.
Either way, today learn something new.