A Lifelong Education

Day 19 in Proverbs

Proverbs 19: 27 “If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know.”


I began my first job out of college in a very different economic time than now.  Things were going pretty well, but more importantly businesses had a lot of loyalty to the employees who had been with them for a lot of years.  If layoffs occurred, these old timers would be the ones that would be retained.  The newer hires would be the first to be let go.

That was good in some ways…..people didn’t live in fear of losing their jobs.  They had a proven track record at their job and a strong level of expertise.

But often it led to bad things too.  People didn’t want to try something they had never done before.  They didn’t want to innovate.  They didn’t want to learn something new.  They preferred to continue doing things the way they had been doing it – for years and years and years.  Sort of the government employee thing in action.  (Apologies to government employees who are not this way.  But you work with others who are…..you know you do!  And it makes for long lines and inefficiencies because no one wants to change.  Drives a lot of us nuts.)
I remember working with some of these old timers and quite frankly saw them as, well, old people.  I felt like they were ready to retirement and should do it post haste.  Funny to me now, since some were probably very close to my current age bracket.  I thought that it would be horrible to be like that.   I couldn’t understand how they could be content to come to work and do everything the same way they had done it for the past 20 years.  I didn’t understand how they could be fulfilled by just coasting to retirement. 

OK, fast forward to now.  You may think my opinions have changed, but nope…I feel the same way.  I still get annoyed by people who aren’t trying to become better and more efficient in their jobs.   I’m in an industry that changes constantly and while I have felt some of the effects of being more resistant to this change as I age, I know that is my issue and I need to deal with it.  I need to make sure that my mind continues to be fertile and productive.  Yep, there is already a lot of information crammed in there and adding more is like adding another book to a library that already has books up to the ceiling and out the door.  It takes more effort than it did when my library consisted of two picture books.  But adding another book to devour….well worth the effort.

The whole “use it or lose it” concept is true.  It didn’t get to be a cliche for nothing!  Our brain needs exercise.  Our will needs exercise.  Our body needs exercise.  Stagnation is our enemy ….though our body fights for the desire to coast.   It’s always easier not to push ourself.  It hurts to exercise something that hasn’t moved in a while.  But our brain is like our muscles in that it responds to us using it in new and different ways.  When we don’t use parts of it, it starts to shut down.  No wonder we find ourselves not thinking well…we’ve become efficient to a point, then coasted.  We need to stop coasting and get it put into full motion.
I just turned 52.  Aging is on my mind.  I don’t always like it.  But like other times in my life, I am looking for role models.  I have found some I like!  They are the ones who still are vital.  They are the ones whose eyes sparkle as they look around the world.  They are the ones who are still learning.  They are the ones who refuse to let themselves become unproductive.  They are the ones who love to spend time with those who are younger than they are and have give-and-take conversations with them.  Sharing what they know, but realizing that they can learn from those who are at a younger life stage.   And they like spending time with those their age and older….who show them that the rules they always thought that applied do not apply.  You don’t have to be a doddering old person.  You can be vital and youthful and live every minute of life fully and vibrantly.
People of every age sometimes stop learning.  Some start very young and close their minds early.  Some think they already know it all and so there is nothing else they need.  Some begin as they start to age because they think they are supposed to.  Some start because it’s hard and they don’t like hard, doggone it!  But whatever the reason, it’s wrong.  The concept is simple.  “If you stop learning, you forget what you already know.”  Think of it as a terminal illness when your brain just deteriorates.  And fight it.  The cure…..educate yourself.  As long as you live.

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