Friday, July 16, 2010

OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS



“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live.” ~ Mortimer Adler

For the past two weeks I’ve spent my days and nights with little blank slates who filled their mental blackboards by asking: Why? What? How? When? Where? With plenty of Nonni! Nonni! Nonni! punctuating each and every sentence. In other words, I’ve been keeping my grandchildren.

Every day I answered questions, played imaginary games, chased them in an effort to save their little necks, laughed with them (and at them) fed and bathed them, read bedtime stories till they finally fell asleep.  Soon after, I collapsed in bed hoping they would sleep through the night.

I raised five children, but even just having one or two at a time kept me running.   HOW did I do it? These little munchkins wore me out.

Tonight it is once again just Neal and I. I’ve had a few quiet hours to reflect on the past couple of weeks with our grandbabies. I’m reminded of how children are in a constant state of learning. Their eyes are sending pictures to their brains, their legs are taking them on adventures, their fingers are reporting textures, their noses and tongues file away scents and tastes. All of this information is categorized and filed away to use later in trying to understand and discern the world around them.

I also got to spend time with some of my children. Last Sunday I visited with my son, Rob. Plainly put, he’s just smart. (He takes after his dad.) As he talked, I listened in amazement to his insight and knowledge. In fact, I had to resist the urge to grab a pen and paper to take notes. Rob reads voraciously, he takes classes, to enjoys spirited discussions. He is also in a constant state of learning—and so am I.
If you think about it, no one has learned so much they cannot be taught. I can learn wonder and curiosity from my grandchildren. My sons and daughters teach me a broader perspective. I read, observe, ask questions. Who cares how silly my questions sound, I learn.

When I’m in a situation where I know more than the teacher because of my age or experience, I still learn because I keep my mind open to them instead of closing it. I learn from my failures instead of cursing them. I learn disappointments and unmet expectations.

You know, the only thing that keeps an “old dog” from learning is a sleeping brain.  

This week, keep your eyes and ears on alert and discover something new, something you didn’t know.

Your slate isn’t too full, keep writing on it!



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