Monday, December 30, 2019

Every Day's a School Day ~ my column from Sunday's paper

For most of my life, I’ve heard the old saying, “Every day’s a school day.” I’ll admit that when I was younger, I didn’t get it. Like most young people, I thought I knew everything. But through the years, I’ve realized just how little I know.

I believe that the best way to expand one’s universe is to expand one’s knowledge. I’ve met people years older than me who embraced learning when others their age circled their educational wagons. The people who continued to learn seemed much more youthful and engaging.

The thing is, you don’t have to take up rocket surgery. You can learn things like home cooking, how to paint, or gardening. I read that the Walker County Extension service has a new Master Gardener class that begins after the new year begins.

All these things provide not only a chance to use a few brain cells but also opportunities for enjoyment. Who doesn’t love home-cooked meals or creating artwork for themselves and others? Becoming a gardener is something that pays dividends that far exceed the amount of time it takes to learn. An added benefit with gardening is that you get exercise, too.

I have a first cousin that is a few years older than me that recently graduated from college with his
bachelor’s degree. He has an interesting story, but since I plan to interview him for the Daily Mountain Eagle, this coming week, I’ll just say that he felt it was important to continue learning even though he is older than dirt. (Just kidding, Bruce.)

This past year, my wife Jilda took college classes on nutrition, meditation, and mindfulness. She also studied pain management, which helped make her more effective in her job.

I took an introduction to beekeeping at the extension service and learned ways to keep our bees healthy and happy.

This year for Christmas, I invested in a one-year pass in Master Class. It’s video training that we can take online and at our own pace. The offerings are from some of the best writers, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, and teachers. We are cranked.

The first class I took was one on portrait photography by Anne Leibovitz. She’s a photographer that’s traveled the world, taking pictures of musicians, actors, politicians, and others. It wasn’t so much about how to take better photographs but how to see. I believe this training will help me take better pictures.

I also signed up for classes on how to become a better writer and an introductory to making documentaries by Ken Burns. Burns is the filmmaker who recently produced the "Country Music" documentary on for the Public Broadcasting Service.

It’s not that I plan to launch into a new career in photography, or filmmaking, but learning new skills is fun.

Many of these learning opportunities provide a chance to expand your circle of friends. Meeting new people and being exposed to new points of view can be stimulating.

Another bonus is that while I’m focusing on learning, I don’t have time to think about all the negative noise around me.

Learning how to achieve world peace and true happiness may be out of my reach, but I would be happy learning how to tell better stories. 


  1. We can only aspire to find peace and true happiness within ourselves. With this, one hopes it will rub off on someone else..and so and so on and so on:) I am a big believer in always learning something new and enjoying each moment even when I have a yucky day. Annie Liebovitch took that famous photo of Demi Moore naked and very pregnant. I wouldn’t mind being photographed by her.

  2. Good stuff. We admire your digging in deeper where you want to. Also a very good and interesting column. Very well written and a good read.
    Life can be good.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU & JILDA! We hope it is the best yet.
    Sherry & jack

  3. I am so grateful to be learning each and every day (though more than a little ashamed at how much I have to learn).
    A very, very Happy New Year to you and Jilda.

  4. I truly learn something new every day and am thankful for people like you that know they don't know everything and keep on learning. Great picture of yourself today. Happy New Year!

  5. When we stop learning we stop living. And it doesn't have to be structured learning. I'm sure you have noticed that each person you interview for the paper leaved you with a new piece of information.

  6. I don't think we ever get too old to learn something new. I enjoy learning. Good luck to you in all your classes. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

  7. We live, we learn as long as we don't stop learning, we are good and we are growing


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