July 30, 2013 — Sometimes our world feels small — we see so much beyond our borders and long to move the perimeters of life.
Yet we do not have to live small regardless of our income, our education, the size of our family or the areas in which we are gifted. Learning expands our borders.
There are many ways to learn something new. We can thoughtfully consider a topic of interest and pursue it through books, formal lectures, lessons and personal experiences. When Terry and I married he wanted me to learn to scuba dive (he loves the water and water sports). I signed up for lessons with the Aqua Knights and learned from a book, lectures, hands-on teaching in a swimming pool and several trips to the ocean to put into practice what I had been taught. Instructors tested us to see if we had mastered important skills such as sharing our regulator with another diver who has no air left in his tank — known as buddy breathing, or swimming underwater without a mask — just in case it gets kicked off by another diver.
There are other ways to study a topic without spending money on lessons or trying to free up so much time in a busy schedule. This method does not lead to expertise but it expands our view of the world around us. Take a nature walk for example. Each time I join Suzanne McDonald on a bird walk in the meadows and woods around Westwood, my eyes are opened just a little wider to the number of species that nest in the surrounding habitat. (Her last walk for the summer is scheduled at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, with the meeting site the Lassen County Visitor Center, Westwood Station.) Activities like these bird walks can be found in the newspaper and are frequently posted on bulletin boards.
Books are also a good way to learn something about a new topic. They can be downloaded onto a tablet, purchased at a bookstore or checked out of a library. Reading easily fits into schedules as well because a book can be carried along to read in the waiting room of a dentist office or when stopped by a flagger on the highway due to roadwork. I selected this method to learn about opera and, of course, embellished the lessons by periodically purchasing tickets to the opera in order to experience it.
What is making you weary? Is it cooking dinner by 6 p.m. each night? Log onto the Internet and research new recipes or find a show you like on the Cooking Channel and start recording episodes. Try making bread or something you have never made before. Come up with an unusual picnic supper and drive to a nearby lake, stream or river to dine.
Is it your drive to work? Listen to a teaching tape or have someone read to you via an audiobook. If you happen to be studying something new, such as opera, you can buy a CD to listen to on the way to work. Birdwatchers might listen to a tape that helps them get familiar with the calls of birds.
This summer I am learning how to grow vegetables. As I learn more and more, I see endless possibilities that include vertical gardening to gain more space in my small backyard.
Life can be a little like this vegetable garden as we grow, expand our boundaries, reshape attitudes and gain new perspective through learning.
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