From birth to 18 or so, we humans have a voracious appetite for learning. We learn to communicate, to speak, to move, to crawl, to walk, to run. We learn culture, science, history, mathematics. Whatever it is we set our minds to, we can learn.
But as the poet e.e. cummings wrote, “down we forgot as up we grew.” For most of us, once we land that first J.O.B., once we find there are no more tests to take, no more “required” reading, we stop learning.
Sure, we learn by doing – to a certain extent. You learn by doing that if you wash a wool sweater in hot water, it shrinks. But as for that voracious appetite? Most of us become anorexic learners after we land that first job.
What a shame! Imagine what we could accomplish in a lifetime if we continued to learn – continued to feed our minds new information – at the same pace that we do in our first 18 years?
Sometimes I hear adults complain that they’re too old to learn something new; that they’re not “spring chickens” anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re never too old to learn; that’s just a lie we feed ourselves to excuse ourselves from a dereliction of duty: self-education.
It’s never too late! Pick up a book, watch a movie, go to a lecture or concert or play. The lifetimes of influential men and women, their ideas and trials and tribulations, are waiting for you in the pages of a book. Want to learn about society, money, relationships, a hobby, business, love? Read a book! Don’t like to read? Be read to: Audiobooks are great for folks who would rather listen than read.
What? Did I hear you say that Audiobooks are too expensive? Do you have a library card? Every library I’ve been in for the past 10 years has had a great selection of audiobooks and movies. Libraries are a fabulous and underused privilege; and 9 times out of 10, they’re free! Libraries are also increasing their scope and convenience through the use of digital libraries that can be logged onto and downloaded from home. Proximity is no longer an excuse.
Bottom line is this: You can’t afford to neglect feeding your mind. Just as your body will atrophy and wither without proper nutrition and exercise, so, too, will your mind. Make every effort to feed your mind with good ideas. Be on the lookout for them, where ever they may be. Not only will you enrich your own life, but you’ll enrich the lives of those you associate with as well, helping one and all to enjoy a veritable feast.
As the great Jim Rohn once said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”