The Art of LearningLive as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. ~Mathama Gandhi
The most inspiring and brilliant people I know have one thing in common: they never stop learning. At the moment, I’m sitting in a crowded Apple Store at a table across from a man who is setting up his brand new MacBook laptop.
“This is serious business.” an elderly man in his late 70’s says with an eager smile.
The Apple rep is showing him how to browse the web and set-up his first email account. The elderly man is diligently taking notes as the Apple rep gives him a tour of the fresh and foreign, online world with his newly purchased laptop.
The rep is in his early 20’s with radical hair and a chill attitude. He reassures the elderly man by saying “no worries” and “cool”, as he patiently answers each question.
The elderly man points to the URL bar and asks: “Is that a magnifying glass? What does it do? . . . I know we just did this, but can you start from the beginning and show me how to save something as a bookmark again?”
Story of Learning Continues …
As the rep carefully dictates the process, the elderly man numbers “1, 2, 3” on a yellow pad, followed by step-by-step, detailed instructions (in this very admirable, cursive penmanship I couldn’t help but notice). Once finished, the elderly man articulately asks for advice on what other websites people would usually bookmark.
The rep left for a moment to help with another customer, and the elderly man—in his nicely pressed khaki blazer and a navy plaid shirt—looks across at me where I’m busily typing away, attempting to capture this moment.
He says in a polished, humbled tone, “Ahh… to be young again. I feel like I’m exploring in a desert…I’ve been here for 4 hours.” He smiles gently, his eyes gleaming.
We chat for a bit, and I was sure to commend him on his perseverance to take on this new, exciting experience of going virtual—for the first time—with a cutting edge product. After all, I too was sitting here, waiting my turn for a set-up appointment to be taught the basics of my first Apple product. And I knew how to Google. And I grew up in the 21st century.
The elderly man tells me that my iPad is cute, and when the rep returns he continues with his diligent learning.
Before leaving, the man shakes the Apple rep’s hand and sincerely thanks him: “It’s like taking home a brand new car. You’re a nice man. Patient. Your wife must really appreciate you.”
He then turns to me and says, “Good-bye young lady,” with a gentlemanly nod and so much life beaming in his smile. With his MacBook in one hand, he slowly walks out of the store.
What I Learned
In the 20 minutes of witnessing learning in full effect at the Apple Store, I felt deeply inspired. The man, although had 50 years on me, carried the energetic spirit of an 18-year-old.
Perhaps we take for granted the opportunity to learn, to evolve with change, to expand & grow, and to challenge ourselves to see the details of life with new wonderment.
Maybe we miss an empowering conversation in the grocery story line because we are too busy thinking about the next three errands ahead.
Or we miss the chance to reframe a current, frustrating situation with a friend’s refreshing perspective because keeping-in-touch hasn’t been a priority.
Or we miss the opportunity to deepen our compassion for a family member who needs us because we haven’t picked up the phone in months—simply to ask, “Hey, how’ve you been? What’s new?”
Or the book, the class, the certification, the travel adventure we’ve decided to put off until tomorrow because it’s easier to delay than to take action.
When we decide to put off events, conversations, and the opportunity to life-learn, we also take for granted the amazing people, teachers, and lessons available in our expansive world, ready to arm us with more vibrant, meaningful experiences.
Today, we can choose to open our thoughts, perspective, and time to create space for growth—our own growth.
We can begin by cultivating a wonderment mindset that embraces endless possibilities,
Ignites creative thoughts,
Pushes past our current limits,
Engages in seeking a deeper purpose,
Catalyzes our potential by feeding it something new,
Reveals the openness to experiment with what makes us feel fully alive.
Parting Words on Learning
We can choose to be curious and learn. Whether as a college student, an aspiring artist, an entrepreneur, a career changer or a spouse, learning is the empowering tool that allows us to tap into our inner well of creativity, fulfillment, and unique brilliance.
Knowing this, I will be re-energizing my wellness activities with meaningful momentum this week: trying a nourishing new vegetarian recipe, joining a local sitting group to deepen my mindfulness practice, spending a playful afternoon of baby yoga with my little sister, and purchasing a new sketchpad to stretch my imagination with vision journaling.
The elderly man demonstrated the wisdom of what it meant to be truly alive.
And that to be completely awake—to thrive consciously with liveliness and youth– has nothing to do with age.
Instead, it is the action of continuous growth that results in being full awake, experiencing life’s goodness constantly unfolding day-after-day.
*How do you open yourself to possibilities and the feeling of being fully alive each day? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below. See you there!