I did a podcast interview the other day and the host asked me a fun question, something I'm not often asked: "How do you keep learning?"
Normally, I probably wouldn't have given such a quick response, but after this past week, I had an easy answer: gardening. As I've spent hours weeding, fertilizing and planting over the past few days, I've done equal amounts of reading, researching and asking questions. I realized that to avoid what happened in the garden last year, I needed to take a critical step: learning.
A familiar feeling
I've taken some time off work this week and have enjoyed the chance to pour over online articles and my new favorite gardening app, From Seed to Spoon. Mikey even bought me a gardening book for our anniversary.
So far, I've learned the difference between indeterminate and determinate tomatoes, the benefits of fish emulsion fertilizer and the advantages of using a new gardening invention called Smart Pots, just to name a few. The app is so handy, I can even keep track of what I plant and when it rains.
As the garden has come together, it's brought a familiar, nostalgic feeling. It's a feeling that used to come when I'd bound metal stairs on a new school bus or find my desk in a new classroom. It's the feeling of excitement mixed with enlightenment. Along with that feeling came a reminder. A key to facing a new frontier: To survive, we must learn new things.
The world of adults
It's funny though, these feelings that come from learning. They're old, yet they feel new. I actually had the thought, "Wow, I'm learning something new. I love this feeling!" this week. And then, I began to realize how little our world of adults celebrates learning.
With our diplomas or job offers in hand, we often leave behind this thing called engaged learning. Sure, we pick up new information all the time and we get trained. But we don't often seek out new informtion with the humility that we don't know everything. Learning is for kids, we often unknowingly think.
If we're going to learn something, there needs to be a return on investment. It must play into our goals, dreams and bottom lines. So why is this? Why don't we embrace learning as adults? Well, for one, in the world of adults—we're expected to know.
It's a world we glamorize as kids and hope to leave once we age. In the world of adults, we exchange questions for judgements. We label curiosity as invasive and feel the need to apologize for it. Our careers expect us to learn and professionally develop, but they leave very little time for the process. Training is functional but learning, well, it's optional. Plus, it's not good in the world of adults to actually not know an answer.
"You've got a lot to learn" is not exactly something we say to give a compliment. But, maybe it should be.
My To-Learn List
This week, I remembered how good learning feels. I also realized that if we're going to survive not only a pandemic, but the world of adults, we need to go back to basics. We need to learn. So I'll go first. Here's what I'm hoping to learn this week.
I'd love to learn how to care for my plants and build an effective compost bin. Also, pruning. I'm not good at this.
As our city begins to open up, I want to learn how to support the local stores in my area and how their businesses are affected by the pandemic. I would love to learn how churches are handling this, and also share how our church is doing so others can learn from us.
I'd love to keep learning why some people feel comfortable not wearing a mask, and why others won't leave home without it. You see, I have some guesses and I've seen a few articles and posts about it, but people are complex. I'd love to know more.
Last week, I began learning about how domestic violence rates are going up. In fact, my friend was telling me she heard her neighbor threaten his wife, "I'm going to kill you" through her apartment-thin walls last week. I'd love to learn if that situation is better, as well as how to help others facing these dangerous at-home situations.
I'd love to learn what's happening in regards to making justice for Ahmaud Arbery and how to best mourn alongside my brothers and sisters in the black community. I've been on a journey the past 10 years that's taught me a lot about racial inequality and the problems of racism, but I have a lot more learning to do.
Everyday life is happening in front of me and presenting a ton of learning opportunities. I'm learning how to publish a book. I'm learning what my hubby does every day now that he's working from home. I'm learning how to designate times and spaces to pray.
I'm learning that raising a tween girl means she looks, acts and feels differently each morning and that if I want to be invited into her world, I must stay curious.
I'm also learning about myself—and I want to keep that up. What are my dreams now that I've accomplished my biggest one—publishing a book? Do I want to write more? What makes me come alive? What do I feel called to do? What should I blog about?
These are the things I hope to learn about this week. If only there was a handy app for them all.
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