Friday, July 27, 2012

Learning

In the Preface to his lovely book The Island Within, about a wilderness island near his home on the coast of Alaska, Rick Nelson writes; "I have recorded my experiences, not as a teacher, certainly not as a thinker, but as a learner who loves his subject as deeply as he loves life itself.

I spent most of my adult life as a "teacher," and I suppose I've done my share of "thinking," but I'd like to think that those activities were means to an end: learning.

Certainly, now in retirement I don't consider myself a teacher, and I'd rather ponder someone else's thoughts than my own. These daily postings, which you are kind enough to read, are little lessons, not for you, but for myself.

It may seem strange that learning should now take preference over teaching and thinking. After all, hasn't it always been the role of elders in traditional cultures to be the repositories of wisdom. Learning is for the young. Teaching and thinking for the grey-haired set.

But no. I have less confidence in the primacy of my thoughts than I did in mid-life, and no desire to proselytize. But I am curious. Curious to absorb a bit more of the wonder of the world, read one more poem, watch one more flower unfold on the sill. These daily postings are the diary of a learner.

That you visit and read gives me one more motivation to take the time to assimilate what I learn, stitching each new acquisition into the fabric of a life. For that I am grateful, and especially to all of you -- whom I have never met -- who comment.

I learn from you.