The Joy of Learning
Do you know how to grate a tomato?
Until about a month ago, I didn’t even think it was possible to grate a tomato. You know, the mush factor and all that. Plus, I shuddered to think of the scene as I inevitably grated my fingers to a bloody pulp.
Turns out, it’s super easy, and apparently, one of the best ways to prepare fresh tomatoes to go in stews, soups or pasta sauce. All it took was a quick Google search.
It’s quite opportune that I’m writing to you from my new space on Substack. After all, I am a full-time writer now, and I’d read quite a few articles about this platform being more friendly to writers. I also heard from quite a few of you that you tried to comment on my old blog posts, but had difficulty. The final nudge came from one of my Twitter friends, who emailed me after he read my latest blog post. So, I packed up all 81 of my old posts and brought them over here to Substack. I’m grateful to Jody for taking the time to help me get my bearings.
Sometimes learning new things is scary. There’s the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While I don’t want to consider myself an old dog, I am burdened with hesitation around learning certain new things. Like all things connected to the internet. Or technology in general. While I’m better than a luddite, I have quite a ways to go before I could consider myself an early adapter.
But I digress…
Last month I shared some new things I’ve learned to do since leaving my full-time lawyer job. What I lack in confidence around certain new things, I make up for with an abundance of curiosity. I decided I wanted to make homemade tomato-basil risotto, so if the recipe required it, by God, I was going to learn how to grate a tomato.
(Spoiler alert: the risotto was OUTSTANDING.)
When new things feel difficult, or even impossible, Google, YouTube, or a text to a friend who’s done it before eases my learning process.
This year, I started volunteering at my local wildlife refuge. It’s a magical place, and I’ve been happy to help at events where people come out to look for birds or hike the trails. Since that was all going well, I thought I’d sign up to help with a field trip for second graders. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now…this was a bit of an experiment to see if I had the chops for interacting with children, having precious little personal experience in that department. While I opted out of parenting for myself, there are things about children I’ve always loved - their capacity for joy and enthusiasm sitting at the top of my list.
I’m pleased to report I more than merely tolerated those seven and eight year old kids. I found myself reflecting back their joy and enthusiasm, as I helped them fill out their worksheets and shared in their wonder and amazement.
Kids are full of questions…because they’re curious! I must take a moment and give a shout-out to our teachers and paraprofessionals who walk the fine line between nurturing that curiosity, helping the kids to actually learn, and maintaining some sort of order. Learning new things is a delicate process, and we all take in new information differently.
As someone who is decades removed from the school setting, I believe we older folks owe it to ourselves to continue the learning process, even if it feels daunting at times. After I finished writing my book, I had to decide what next? So 2022 has been a huge learning curve with lots of experimentation. Next year will be a graduation of sorts, as I figure out what has worked and what hasn’t. What I can say is that NOTHING has been a waste of time. Even complete failure is an amazing teacher, as long as we are willing to accept the lesson.
That’s why I wholeheartedly believe the saying “knowledge is power.”
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned this year? Reply in the comments - you don’t have to sign in or subscribe! That’s the great thing about this new blogging platform, we can take the discussion even further!
Talk to you soon!