To live is to learn. This old saying has bounced around in my mind since childhood but has never held more true now. I periodically go through stages which I call my learning stages. What this is is a time when I just have to read, listen to, and watch as much information as I can stuff into my brain. I have friends who tell me I overdo it but knowledge is power. This kind of power isn’t the diabolical knowledge of the arch-villian to your comic book superhero but the knowledge of freedom.
My dad always taught me that I’d have to know twice as much as the guy next to me to be certain I’d get the job. With that I’ve never ended my learning. He also taught me I’d have to be totally self sufficient because you really can never count on anyone for help. So, with that I was given my marching orders. Learn all that you need for life. There are no man only or woman only skills there are just skills. If the shirt needed sewing. You did it. If the sink needed plumbing. You did it. If a meal needed to be cooked. You did it.
As time goes on in your life it becomes fine to outsource some of these jobs. For example, I don’t work on my car at all now. I haven’t changed oil or the brakes myself since my early twenties. However, this only gives me more time to learn. I have a fancy radio in my car that takes USB sticks and plays the audio off of them. This way I just copy podcasts, lectures, and audiobooks to it and listen to that while I drive and only to the radio when the kids or my wife is with me.
Is that too much? I don’t want to be the guy that’s the regular at Starbucks discussing politics and the nature of being while dropping names of obscure politicians, actors, or activists hoping that people have to look up what I’m saying when they get home on Wikipedia. Nor do I particularly want to be the person everyone calls when they have any problem in the world because I am that guy now and that’s grown old. Every call I get is somebody that wants something from me. I just want to be free.
Free like James Bond or the character in a new TV series I’ve been watching called Burn Notice. People you could just drop anywhere on the planet and they would survive and do it well. The problem is that once you’ve started on this road the gas stations (reflection points) are few and far between and once you reach one you never remember you wanted to turn around. Honestly, I’m really not sure if I ever want to. There’s so much to learn.