Apparently when Michelangelo (painter, sculptor, architect, poet – original Renaissance man) was 87 years old he said, “Ancora imparo” – I am still learning.
I reflected on keeping a learning posture last week, when I was at the pool locker room, suiting up for my lap swim. I was chatting with a woman just a few years younger than me; she was getting ready for her final lifeguarding class. Wow – a class with a bunch of teenagers and one woman who was close to 50 years old! That is a learning posture.
I thought about her while I went back and forth, back and forth, doing my laps. I thought about all the reasons some of us stop learning when we get over (fill in the blank for age). And then I thought about all the reasons to keep on learning.
Reasons to stop learning (most of us won’t articulate these, but they are in the back of our minds when we step back rather than forward towards a learning opportunity):
· Fear – of what others will think, of looking stupid, of being wrong, of not being able to accomplish whatever we want to learn
· Time – to accomplish something new, we need to set aside time, make it a priority and stop doing activities that are less meaningful
· Settling – the comfort and safety of the known can cause us to settle for staying stuck, rather than trying new things
· Lack of imagination – we have never pictured ourselves doing the new thing – being a lifeguard, writing a book, climbing a mountain, speaking in front of a crowd, telling our story
Reasons to keep on learning:
· Stretching – it’s as good for our minds as it is for our muscles
· Stewarding – we have gifts and influence we can invest for the kingdom, in every season of life
· Serving – the lifeguard learns so she can save a life – I learn so I can serve my community in some way
I want to keep learning this month, this year, this decade, and for as many decades as I have life and breath. Sometimes I lack focus, because I want to learn so many things and I don’t have time for all of them. Then I go back to stewardship – understanding my unique season of life and my unique gifts, so I can decide where to focus my learning for now and the next that God calls me toward. Right now I’m thinking about working on my Spanish, since my daughter will be in Mexico again next year, and I’d like to be able to communicate when I visit her. Not to mention how useful it will be in my hometown.
“Ancora imparo” – I want to keep learning, stretching, stewarding and serving.