And this time, it is not just about touching the hot stove
It was one of those rainy winter evenings at my hometown in Morocco. And, just like any other evening, my brother, my sister and I were all back from school.
It seemed like nobody was home yet. But, minutes later, we heard the sound of the door opening. That sound that you oddly associate with the warm feeling of your parents coming back home (as well as the smell of the soon to be prepared food, which in my case was mainly Moroccan tea and pancakes, Yay!).
My mom was back…
My brother and I were playing on our Play Station. I do not remember which game it was, nor do I remember whether we were fighting over it or mostly having fun. But I do remember the now-you-must-study feeling I had when mom saw us. “Shouldn’t you be learning right now?” she asked in a gentle subtle way that came through to us as a passive-aggressive “Go study now! Go while you can still walk!”.
“But…”, I answered (slowly and with the best puppy eyes I could fake) “We’ve learned all the things we had to learn…”.
As soon as I finished my words, a sarcastic smile was drawn on her face, you know, the kind of smiles that wise people make. She then asserted:
Learning never ends
And I didn’t understand it back then. I mean, at that point, my only interests were in collecting Pokémons, and probably trying to make a magic potion that will give me superpowers. And the only association I had to learning was the creativity-killing courses at school.
But, more often than not, when we learn something, the moment we start to become good at it, it starts to become boring, dull and sometimes annoying. We lose the beginner’s mind, that feeling of curiosity and excitement when something is new! And whether it’s in maths or computer science, arts or sports, in relationships and in love there comes a moment where we’ve learned enough to stop or lose interest. The distractions kick in, we get busy and we don’t wanna learn anymore.
We get the illusion that we’ve learned everything (or at least most things) while, in reality, our knowledge is smaller than a grain of sand in the deserts. Soon enough, you start protecting your ego, and you might think that you can outsmart others, but you forget that others can outwork you. Sometimes it seems like everything there is to do was already done and it would not make any sense to learn further. That all the paths have been discovered, that all the rules have been set. But this is as much of an illusion as the former one.
Learning is a habit, just like flossing your teeth, making your bed or having dinner with a person you love every Friday. When you do it everyday it switches your brain on automatic. It becomes something you do not debate with yourself even in your most neurotic moments. And it consequently becomes handy during the good times... and during the other ones too.
The truth is, there’s always a path left to be uncovered and you can always cultivate beginner’s mind. If you’ve learned to surf on a long board try surfing on a shorter one, if you can perfectly draw with your right hand try it with your left hand. The bottom line is this:
keep playing around, keep making stuff up
Learning never ends. I sometimes forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. So next time you think you’re done, and there’s no more to study? Just remember this: “Learning never ends”.