Author Topic: Do you still want to learn?  (Read 9236 times)

mgriffin

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Do you still want to learn?
« on: July 15, 2008, 07:18:08 PM »
I think one of the important things many people lose in adulthood is the desire, or even willingness, to learn new things.  I don't mean little things like learning a new route to the grocery store, or learning about a new band or a new restaurant, but taking on a new subject and trying to master it.

I've tried to remain open to learning about new things (for example, starting to make electronic music in my late twenties) but I've found that the last several years it's harder to open up enough free time to take on new subjects of any complexity.  Since college, I've missed the regular challenge of taking on a new subject and delving deeply into it, learning from an expert and gradually gaining enough knowledge to be considered an expert myself.  This year I've resolved to take on two significant new self-guided learning projects, even if I have to sacrifice time spent on other things in order to make it happen.

First, I'm going to go from a novice to an expert in PHP and MySQL.

Second, I'm finally going to learn Flash, something I've been planning to learn, and dabbling in just a little, for nearly as long as Flash has been around.  I want to go beyond just making a few little tutorial-guided projects, or an animated Hypnos logo, and get into creating complex and unusual web applications, such as unusual media players.  Like I said with PHP/MySQL I want to get to an advanced level, whatever that means. 

It seems that everybody who reads this forum could be considered an "adult" and many have jobs and families and obligations... so I'm curious if others view it as a priority to continue taking on significant new learning challenges.  I'd also like to hear any examples people have of new projects or discoveries taken on well into adulthood.  I always thought it was so cool when I was in college, to see some older man or woman in one of my literature or art classes, and to imagine what it would be like to live much of one's life in a certain direction before taking off in a new direction like that.

[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

Mark Mushet

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2008, 10:43:49 PM »
Mike,

Yes, very much. But time and energy are major prohibitive factors for those with day jobs and kids. My SO is currently taking Mandarin classes and I'm taking a course in DreamWeaver. It helps to have a practical application in the wings.

In general, though, learning is always fun and should be a lifelong pursuit.

Nice thread, Mike! I'm sure it will yield a lot!

Seren

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2008, 01:59:06 AM »
I started my social work diploma at 35 eleven years ago. Mainly as I lived in a very rural area where residential care was almost the biggest employer in the area. I really enjoyed it at the time, even though doing it with the Open University whilst spending 84 hours a week at work (including the laughably called sleep ins!!). Did the equivalent of two full time courses on each of the two years of the course - was bloody hard work (which Ileft me with w very strong resistance to further 'study') and there is the constant pressure to continue developing professionally which my heart is just not really into..... I would love to just go to college to learn something for the hell of it, maybe silversmithing or taking my interest in quantum physics theories into something further.

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 04:56:00 AM »
Got my masters degree in education last year.  I'm 56.

mgriffin

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 09:01:08 AM »
I know a lot of people who have some major thing they say they've "always wanted to do," but they eternally use the "job/wife/kids" explanation for why they can't do it yet, "not now, maybe soon, someday."

Though I don't have kids, and have only had a wife for one of my 43 years, I've been a pretty busy guy for the last 10 years or so and so I've definitely had long periods of feeling too busy to spare the time on things I really wanted to do.

But I think we all have some extra time to spare, no matter how busy we think we are.  Just about everybody wastes some time in front of the TV or the computer or video games, or reading too many magazines or spending an hour each morning reading the news paper.  These are things that can be adjusted a little, to make room for something else, if it's important enough.  I've just decided it doesn't make sense to keep putting off things that important to me, when I spend at least SOME time doing things that aren't important to me.

Also, I hate the idea that for all the things I've discovered and studied and practiced in my first 30 or so years, that there won't be a similar amount of discovery and study and practice in my next 30 (or 70!) years.

Why do so many middle aged people become professionally stagnated?  Because they've stopped learning new skills, tools or techniques that their younger colleagues have mastered.  I know salesmen who aren't comfortable with email and can't figure out a "smart phone," and who rationalize that shortcoming by saying "I sold things just fine the last 35 years without a Blackberry or email."

Aside from the professional or ambitious motivations for learning new things, I think it's nourishing and promotes confidence and happiness, to take on new challenges and acquire new skills.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

SunDummy

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2008, 10:30:44 AM »
Cool topic!

I'm 42; for the past ten years, I have been keeping really busy.  TOO busy, in some ways.  I helped found and build two companies; renovated two houses; created music at an obsessive pace; started beekeeping; read 2 or 3 books a week; started road-biking again after a 20+ year break; spent 3+ days a week tele-skiing; brewed beer steadily; stalked big Muskie in MN lakes; learned to fly-fish; golfed weekly (and weakly, I should add); learned HTML; explored every nook and cranny of the Rockies; got two big dogs & learned the art of training; learned a bit about wine:  I never sat still.  I considered going back to school to channel some of that energy into another degree, but I could never decide what I wanted to study, so I never went.

Last November, my wife and I moved to NE Washington state from the midwest.  In the middle of our move (literally the day after the movers picked up our stuff), we found out my wife had cancer.  She's fine now, 100% cured, no chemo, radiation, or tamoxofin; but from Nov. to mid-March, I was on the verge of a collapse.  My blood pressure was around 190/110; I had a serious case of depression.

Now, 8 months later, I find myself getting back to normal; however, normal has been redefined for me.  The companies I helped build are still plugging along, but I'm less and less interested in them; my new house is mostly finished; I no longer make music (except for some guitar noodling); I haven't set up the beehives here yet (next spring); I still read a book every couple weeks; I ride about 50-100 miles a week on the roadie; still ski obsessively; sold my brewing gear; haven't fished since last summer; golfed once this year; haven't touched HTML; haven't travelled; still work with the dogs, and am still interested in wine.  I find myself just sitting in my yard, staring at the trees, almost every evening.  I know I'll eventually start to get back into some of my old hobbies, but for now, it's nice to just sit back and relax.  Trouble is, I've gained 20 pounds since Nov. too:  Stress really plays with your metabolism.   :-\ 

While I agree that lifelong learning and exploration is essential to one's sanity, I think periods of reflection and evaluation are essential too.  From my perspective, I can see that my go-go lifestyle, while fun, was not sustainable.  I was so busy, I never really thought about whether I was actually enjoying all those activities.  Once I was forced to stop, I got to think about what I really wanted to be doing with my time, and decided to eliminate those things that didn't totally move me.  Free time is not 'doing nothing'; it's recharging the mental batteries.

My hobbies now consist of physical pursuits; a healthy mental state requires a healthy body.  I'm considering going back to school now, but again, I really don't know what I'd study.  If a topic interests me, I get a ton of books on it and read voraciously.  The trouble is, things that interest me don't pay squat in the work-world, so justifying the time and expense of school to study something I can read about on my own time doesn't make sense.  Learning doesn't have to mean formal schooling, esp. if it's just a hobby.



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lena

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2008, 10:46:31 AM »
Oh, I remember when that happened with your wife, and I am SO HAPPY to hear that she's completely cured!

(M & I have actually decided that we need to CUT BACK on our workouts, in order to make time for other things).... ;D
When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.

SunDummy

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2008, 11:05:27 AM »
Quote
Oh, I remember when that happened with your wife, and I am SO HAPPY to hear that she's completely cured!

Thanks!   :D ;D  She's a rock, I tell you what.


Quote
(M & I have actually decided that we need to CUT BACK on our workouts, in order to make time for other things)....

Does... not... compute...   ??? ::)
I wish I was a Glowworm; a Glowworm's never glum. 'Cause how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?

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mgriffin

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2008, 11:23:11 AM »
Quote
(M & I have actually decided that we need to CUT BACK on our workouts, in order to make time for other things)....

Does... not... compute...   ??? ::)

Well, Lena works out 10-12 times per week so a little cutting back is in order.

I don't work out as much, but I have the sculpted physique of a Greek god, so I can afford to scale back a little!
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

SunDummy

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2008, 11:37:11 AM »
Quote
I don't work out as much, but I have the sculpted physique of a Greek god, so I can afford to scale back a little!

"I'm in shape; round is a shape!"
I wish I was a Glowworm; a Glowworm's never glum. 'Cause how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?

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jkn

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2008, 12:48:03 PM »

I don't work out as much, but I have the sculpted physique of a Greek god, so I can afford to scale back a little!

I'm dedicating my life to finding a way to work that into an album or song title...



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APK

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2008, 01:44:45 PM »
I don't work out as much, but I have the sculpted physique of a Greek god, so I can afford to scale back a little!

Yeah, but soon it will be the physique of lesser-known Roman god, and a little later the physique of a Medieval peasant  ;)
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Undershadow

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2008, 01:59:21 PM »

Would it be this Greek God, by any chance, Mike?

Silenus

http://www.socyberty.com/Folklore/10-Ancient-Gods-of-Beer.47169

In Ancient Greek mythology, Silenus is the God of beer and a drinking companion. He is usually associated with his buddy, Dionysus. He is often featured as a bald and fat man, with a big beer belly. He is normally drunk and it is said that he had to be carried either by donkeys or satyrs (in Greek mythology, satyrs are wood-dwelling creatures with the head and body of a man and the ears, horns, and legs of a goat).


ffcal

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2008, 07:52:22 PM »
I've been interested off and on in fractals over the last 10 years, and have read several laybooks about them, but have not been inclined to take a formal physics course, because of the less than scintillating math that would likely crop up.

I started studying Chinese classical music and the gu-zheng (Chinese zither) in my mid-to-late 20s, and around that same time also started attending gamelan workshops hosted by Gamelan Sekar Jaya.

These days, I've been playing informally with a mandolin group that sight reads through classical pieces written for multiple string players.  I like challenge of trying to play an unfamiliar piece, as it almost seems like a formal of aerobics for the ears.

Forrest

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2008, 07:57:52 AM »

Would it be this Greek God, by any chance, Mike?

Silenus

http://www.socyberty.com/Folklore/10-Ancient-Gods-of-Beer.47169

In Ancient Greek mythology, Silenus is the God of beer and a drinking companion. He is usually associated with his buddy, Dionysus. He is often featured as a bald and fat man, with a big beer belly. He is normally drunk and it is said that he had to be carried either by donkeys or satyrs (in Greek mythology, satyrs are wood-dwelling creatures with the head and body of a man and the ears, horns, and legs of a goat).




Terry Pratchett had a simlar charcter in one of his books, the "Oh God" of hangovers....this poor individual recieved the effects of the drinking undertaken by many in Baccanalian or Dionysion excess....

mgriffin

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2008, 08:22:58 AM »

Would it be this Greek God, by any chance, Mike?

Silenus

In Ancient Greek mythology, Silenus is the God of beer and a drinking companion. He is usually associated with his buddy, Dionysus. He is often featured as a bald and fat man, with a big beer belly. He is normally drunk and it is said that he had to be carried either by donkeys or satyrs (in Greek mythology, satyrs are wood-dwelling creatures with the head and body of a man and the ears, horns, and legs of a goat).

In some respects, this fellow reminds me of myself during my college years (drunken behavior, falling down, having to be carried, lying about with wood dwelling creatures) but in terms of appearance, nope.
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mgriffin

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2008, 01:20:31 PM »
How many people reading this thread will admit to being in the "always planning to try it someday, but haven't gotten around to it for some reason" group?
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

hdibrell

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2008, 09:22:07 PM »
That would be me. Talk about a wake up call :-[      Harry
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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2008, 03:10:57 PM »
At the same time I decided to open the musical floodgates again, I also decided I wanted to finally try my hand at electronics building/circuit bending/DIY gear, etc. I got my feet wet, started reading, learning, fiddling, soldering, building...

I had some minor success, I had some collosal failure, I learned a lot in a short amount of time and I felt like I was uncovering something that I'd wanted to find for sooo looong.

Then I woke up one morning and realized I hadn't recorded a second's worth of audio in two weeks. The happy feeling of accomplishment dissipated immediately.

What's important to me is making music...it took me a number of years to get back to that realization, but I did...

My wife and I don't have kids-just regular jobs and such, so we do have ample free time, but there are other interests that take up our time as well.

I am still doing some occasional DIY stuff with a friend of mine once a week or so, but I no longer intend to pursue gear development with any kind of passion because that's the time I want to devote to making music.

Each person is different and Mike has a valid point that it can be disheartening to think that you, or others, can so easily fall into a lull when it comes to advancing one's knowledge base.

I've decided that little bits work best for me...things here and there...piece by piece...

.b

mgriffin

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Re: Do you still want to learn?
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2008, 03:30:21 PM »
A couple people have brought up a good point, which is that sometimes it's OK to realize you don't want to pursue something.  It doesn't mean your reaching a dead-end or a doldrums in life.  You might just have better, more important or more fulfilling things to do.

But we've all been through a time when we weren't really doing the thing or things we wanted to do, and we needed to focus, or rededicate, or kick ourselves in the ass and get to work.

I don't see anything wrong with someone saying "I'd be happier doing this one thing really well, than trying to do three things just a little bit well" and focusing in.  What I think is unfortunate is when a person goes along doing nothing but "busy work" in their life, and never really addressing the things they always wished or hoped to do.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions