Eternal Students

“We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began & to know the place for the first time”.

T.S Eliot

As my two weeks’ leave draws to a close, I’m in a reflective mood & happy to report that I’ve experienced no i-phone withdrawal symptoms. It’s the first time we’ve stayed at home for our summer break with no-one but ourselves for company – unusual, as living by the sea, when the sun is shining family & friends migrate to our pop-up B&B. What it’s done is allow me to reconnect with my family & home, something I commit to maintain when I return to my desk next week.

Whilst I’ve been off we’ve had a massive sort out at home, which was more a case of had to rather than want to, due to the imminent removal of an unsafe conservatory. An article in August’s Woman & Home magazine suggests that de-cluttering is better than therapy & it definitely gets my vote. Wading through the mountains of paperwork, of photographs, I’ve re-lived the last few years of my life; flashes of happy times, of sad times. What blew me away was how many wonderful, awe-inspiring people have come into my life, some brief visitors & others who have remained close. What they have taught me is huge, it is beyond measure. They are the inspiration behind today’s blog.

You’ve got to have the right conditions for anything to grow. I believe that for us to grow as human beings, it means having a heart & mind open & committed to life-long learning.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin…”is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old & trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins…You may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags & what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust & never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you”.

T.H. White, from “The Once & Future King”, as quoted by Sue Knight in: ”NLP at Work: The Essence of Excellence”.

 Soon after retiring from a daily commute into London, in his mid-70’s, my granddad suddenly lost my grandma to heart failure. They’d been married for nearly 50 years, following a whirlwind 6-week wartime romance. He was lost, but, do you know what he did ? He joined an adult education class, to fulfil a life-long ambition to speak French.  It wasn’t just about learning a new language. It was about meeting new people, getting a fresh perspective on life & delivering on a commitment he’d made to himself.

The first and most powerful thing we can learn about is ourselves. In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R Covey proposes a habit (no.2) called “Begin with the end in mind”. He asks us to imagine our 80th Birthday party: who we would like to be there, what we would like them to be saying about us & what we’ve achieved. This emotional & empowering exercise helps us crystallise who we are, what we are about & what we value.  It provides us with a frame of reference to make sense of the world, to help us understand why things make us think & feel the way we do, to enable us to make our choices. If you need a little more thoughtful persuasion to give it a go, I’d recommend reading “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Commitment to life-long learning shouldn’t just be in relation to ourselves, we should commit to giving everyone opportunities to learn in a safe & supportive environment, our children included. Winston Churchill said, “I’ve never failed at anything in my life. I was simply given another opportunity to get it right”. I give thanks to my family, my friends, my work colleagues, the motorist behind me when I’ve got into the wrong lane at a roundabout, to those who have not blamed me when I’ve got it wrong & given me that precious gift of another chance.

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One thought on “Eternal Students

  1. Lots of things to think about there Loretta, thank you. I particularly liked the Winston Churchill quotation as it ties in with my own belief that it is often a better thing to try and fail than never to try at all! Looking forward to reading the next one. Helen x

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