Learn As If You Were To Live Forever

If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you – Anonymous.

I was inspired to do this by reading a post from Midnight Madness: Things To Research In Your Free Time | The Art of Always Learning. On that blog post Georgia was discussing how even though school has finished for her, that she wants to keep on learning things. I couldn’t agree more.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) once wrote ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. I think he was wrong. I think it should have read, ‘when a [person] is tired of learning, [they] are tired of life’. Albeit Mr. Johnson wasn’t writing about modern day London, which if we’re being honest I find tiring after a weekend! I always find myself wanting to escape the noise and the crowds after too long. I know that sort of environment enlivens some people, but it seems to drain me of energy, and I need to go somewhere quiet and empty to recharge. I imagine eighteenth century London was somewhat quieter, if rather smellier, than it’s modern day counterpart.

What I will never be tired of is learning. I am constantly curious. One of the reasons I wanted to stay in Higher Education was to continue to learn. My plan was to go on to do a PhD. Unfortunately, Father Christmas didn’t give me an extra £50,000 as a christmas present, so I had to re-evaluate. I was worried that if I didn’t continue in a learning environment then it would be difficult for me to continue doing something I loved. I did history for my undergraduate and masters degrees, and I have had had an interest in that topic since I was very young. After leaving formal education I wanted to broaden my perspectives on learning. I will always have a passion for history; it’s practically in my blood these days.

‘Learning’ by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Outside of the workplace I have to work a little harder to continue to learn. I’m a voracious book hoarder. At the last count I had over 400 books in my house. Many of them are non-fiction, and on all sorts of topics.

Topics I’m going to explore next:

  1. The history of the english language – I’ve always been fascinated by this. I’m so interested in what caused the changes, and how other languages have infiltrated our common speech (usually by way of invasion). The book currently on my shelf is ‘The Language Instinct’ by Stephen Pinker (link is goodreads). 
  2. The development of quantum physics (for dummies!!) – Ever since reading Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ several years ago, I’ve been fascinated by quantum physics, and how things work at that level. Obviously I will never understand it to any great level (although didn’t someone once say that if a quantum physicist said he understood quantum physics then he didn’t actually understand it). 
  3. Continue to draw – I picked up my pencils and started drawing again about a year ago. I’m currently enjoying drawing portraits and want to improve on those. 
  4. Vegetarianism  – I am not a vegetarian. I am trying to lessen my environmental impact, and it has involved attempting to be vegetarian for three or four days a week (to begin with). I want to look into this more, and more interesting recipes/dishes. 
  5. Historical Architecture – How to recognise when a building was constructed/added to by the different markers in it’s architecture. Most of us can recognise a tudor or “mock-tudor” building… but what does a house look like from the georgian period? Or the victorian? I’d be really interested to actually learn the different styles and construction methods. 

What is on your “to learn” list? What topics do you want to explore? Let me know in the comments!


10 thoughts on “Learn As If You Were To Live Forever

  1. Ah so many things are on my list! I want to learn:
    1. How to play a piano well enough to sit down without music and play.
    2. To play the flugel horn well enough to do the same.
    3. how to do more to protect the earth, using sociology, environment science, and law (hence enrolment on the perfect MA!)
    4. How to make life fairer for people. How to improve equality across the board.
    5. The histories of socialism and communism.
    6. How to be more tolerant.
    7. The art of patience, especially with my children 😉

    There are so many more things that will probably appear in my head over night- a great blog post! 👍🏼

    1. I missed instruments off my list! And languages… and various parts of history. You’ve just given me so many ideas… I feel a part 2 coming along! X

  2. I’m sure you knew I would say this, but to learn something new every day (and to encourage others to do the same) has always been my goal and it’s been very satisfying throughout my life. My current ‘new’ task, which I’ve actually been on for nearly five years now, is learning Spanish, and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t have as many ‘to-do’s on my list as you, but always did enjoy venturing into new areas… I’m self-taught as far as history goes, having chosen to do English at A level instead. Re historical architecture, you may want to look up a lovely book called Historical Britain, by Eric S Wood, which I found fascinating on the subject.

    1. I will definitely add that to my reading list!

      My spanish could do with improvement as well – I was doing quite well whilst my parents were living out there I was visiting three times a year, but now they’re living half a mile down the road my chances of learning have lessened somewhat!

  3. I love learning too, even now, after all these years. Throughout my years working at University, I have educated myself to degree level (but without the award). I was also offered the chance by the University to do a part time degree, but it would have taken seven years and my three daughters were a real handful at the time. I couldn’t commit. Maybe Lancaster will fund your PhD eventually (most University Staff training budgets are underused)? Universities are good at encouraging learning. Well, here in Nottingham anyway…I’ve always been fascinated by architecture, even if it’s just looking at brickwork. In Victorian times, there were so many different patterns to brickwork, most of them forgotten now. I’d love to draw but I don’t have time to commit myself to it 100%, and I feel that is what I’d need to do. All my art supplies are waiting for my retirement, stuffed away in cupboards. In the meantime, I’ll help my grandkids to learn and I’ll explore things and places when I can. I’d love to see far off places, but money is always a big issue. I find that travel always inspires learning. I know I will be vegetarian before too long as it seems to be the right thing to do.

    1. Some very interesting things in there. I don’t think I want to stay in Lancs long term so I’d be looking for other opportunities for my PhD. I was talking to one of the academic deans this morning and it got me thinking about it again, and the fact that I do miss exploring a topic in that much detail!

      I keep seeing stuff that pushes me towards vegetariansim, but I’m too weak! I like some meat products too much. Urgh I’m such a horrible person. 😛

  4. ahh you are so cool!!! i love that you have this mentality and i love the DIVERSITY in your list of interests and things to learn. can’t wait to see you achieve all that and more!

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