During the last year or so I have come to ponder about learning. Learning is an interesting thing. To us humans, learning is very important. Actually the most important thing! We cannot survive without learning all the stuff you need to know to get trough everyday life and to earn your livelihood. As a species, learning is our trade-mark thing. Sure other species learn to use tools etc. But only humans learn vast amounts of different skills and other more abstract things.
When we are little and we are put to school (at least in the countries that have a basic education system) and we start learning things. At first basic things and later more advance subjects that are thought to be needed to be a productive member of the society. In later stages of our education we might have a little say in the subjects we are taught. Ultimately you are expected to choose an institution of higher education that prepares you to an occupation you want. But I find that in the lower classes up to high school there is a lot of dissatisfaction amongst the students and this is largely due to motivation.
Motivation to study and to learn is a highly complex matter, and I will not go too deep into the inner mechanics of how home and parental love etc. affects it. But motivation is the key to better learning. If you have no will to learn, how are you really going to learn anything? And how can you not be motivated to learn new things, because learning is so important?
Well, I guess the lack of motivation to study is a first world problem. In countries where education is not a commodity, people strive to learn and to study. A photograph comes to my mind. A young, poor man with a worn out maths book in his hands. He is making notes while waiting for a customer to come by to get their boots polished on his stand. That is motivation right there.
Learning Keeps Us Going
WE should all be as motivated to learn new things, be the things anything at all. I remember having a discussion about learning with a colleague of mine. We concluded that if a man thinks that he knows everything and ceases to learn, he is dangerously arrogant and has stopped in the tracks of life. Learning makes us better; learning leads us on in life. By learning we improve ourselves. And that is a thought that really should motivate one to learn more.
By learning new skills, we also learn to appreciate the things at hand. And by learning a wide variety of different skills, we learn to understand and appreciate different aspects of life. For example, this summer I took a kayaking class and the teacher was an older man. He had clearly spent most of his time on kayaks around the waters of the world. While this is all good and fine, and not to mention very committed and respectful, I could not help myself thinking that this guy probably does not appreciate other sports a whole lot. I might be wrong though!
Gaining Perspective Through Learning
But what I realised was, that I do not want to be like that. I want to learn different sports and be able enjoy nature in many different ways. But I totally understand that for some there can only be one, and that is fine by me. And I think this appreciation of such ways of life has come to me through learning about a lot of different sports and activities. And that is the main point of self-improvement: to learn new skills and to see the world and people a new through them.
Of course, to learn new skills is a goal as such. If you want to learn how to shoot a weapon, or to fly a plane, or to cook, or to fix your own car, you probably want to do it for a specific reason, and thus you are motivated.
But the understanding, the appreciation of different ways of life, or life-styles, if you will, comes as an added bonus to those who dare to keep their eyes open for yet another new thing to learn and new ways to improve.
The realisation that learning never stops, and that it is a good thing, makes us see that none of us is perfect. This is why the fact, that learning makes us better persons, does not mean that we are better than others. We just become better versions of ourselves. And bearing this in mind, through learning we learn better to appreciate others too. Or that is the best-case scenario anyway.
I have made a point to myself to try to learn something new all the time. After I graduated college I went to work and of course everyday I learn to do my job better, and I strive for that. But I also noticed that it is not enough. I started to look for courses and think of skills that would really like to know and to really push myself to be motivated to strive to learn other things besides the skills I need for work.
So far I have done quite well. I took the kayaking class, we took the wall climbing class with Blue and I have taken it up with myself to learn proper sewing to make a little DIY gear projects.
There is a lot more I would like to try out and learn. I have been looking at a diving class too and thinking of taking some advanced climbing classes. I have made it my goal to be able to scale cliff faces outside next summer. Taking up hunting and fishing have been on my mind as well.
And being a reservist, I want to learn to be a better soldier to be able better to serve my country. So I have taken a few shooting classes in the spring and now I have tried to regularly go to range to practise (not nearly enough though!).
Writing about Learning, Learning through Writing
We established Noble & Blue partly because of the new-found motivation to learn, that Blue and I share. I personally want to learn new skills. I want to learn about good gear and to be able to share my experiences with others. This way others can learn from my findings and mistakes. And hopefully get something else out of it too. Maybe even be motivated to go out there, to go on an adventure, or to go to the range, or to sew your own shirt, or find the best equipment and gear you need to be continue to be motivated to do so.
I have been reading a book called “South – The Endurance expedition” by Sir Ernest Shackleton, a famous polar expeditioner from the start of 20th century. In the book he tells of his last expedition to Antarctica and how it failed when their ship got stuck in the ice.
The pages are filled with testimonies of how everything can go horribly wrong. But also he tells how the men did not give up in the face of failure. I think a lot of it was because of the leadership of Sir Shackleton. When they eventually had to abandon the ship, he wrote that he had to gather all his courage and knowledge to be able to save every last man.
He wrote: “A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground.”
Be sure that you are ready to shape up to a new mark all the time.