Learning never exhausts the mind. -Leonardo da Vinci
Every time I step out the door and into the woods, something new greets me. The sky and the weather are always changing; the secretive wildlife sometimes pop into view and then disappear again. I caught a spotted salamander one foggy autumn day, and now I know they exist. Another day, a bright winter morning, I glimpsed a golden crowned kinglet—a small, peppy bird—flitting through the bows of a neighbor’s old red pines. I find something new most every day outside, and with every new critter I find my horizons broaden, becoming just a bit wider than they were before.
Most people are addicted to their Facebook accounts, their emails, or perhaps the TV, because they want to be kept up to date and not miss out. These mediums enthrall us because they are ever-changing, always providing us with new and interesting material. I find the woodland more fulfilling, but part of my appreciation is grounded in the same need that keeps us glued to computer screens—human beings require new information, new experiences, and new ideas to keep themselves bright and engaged. The same is true for animals in zoos—zookeepers are always trying to think of new ways to enrich the animals to keep them from getting despondent. Though we humans have considerably more freedom than zoo animals, a non-enriched mind can feel a lot like a cage.
This is where lifelong learning comes in. We’re not meant to shun books once we graduate. Learning is its own reward. If you’ve been struggling with your writing and feel you have nothing to say, perhaps you haven’t enriched your mind with new ideas recently. Where to start? Well, we all have opinions on controversial issues. Reading something that you disagree with is a great way to get your blood pumping, fill your mind with new thoughts, and chances are you’ll be bursting with words before long. Try to keep it civil, though.
My second college semester begins in two weeks, and there’s one course in particular that’s bound to be entertaining and will probably contribute the most to my writing. It’s called Politics of Life and Death, and it looks like we’ll spend the whole semester arguing about controversial, unresolved and emotion-packed issues such as abortion and assisted suicide. As a former debater, this sounds like great fun to me. You may hear about it in upcoming posts.
Learning should be memorable; there are unique ways for all of us to enrich our minds. I take inspiration from a walk in the woods, a good book, a surf on the ‘net. Find something that works for you, make a habit, and be learning always.