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OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN MUSIC => Everything and Nothing => Topic started by: mgriffin on July 15, 2008, 07:18:08 PM

Title: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: mgriffin 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.

Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Mark Mushet 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!
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Seren 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.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: MarkM on July 16, 2008, 04:56:00 AM
Got my masters degree in education last year.  I'm 56.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: mgriffin 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.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: SunDummy 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.



Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: lena 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
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: SunDummy 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...   ??? ::)
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: mgriffin 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!
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: SunDummy 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!"
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: jkn 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...



Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: APK 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  ;)
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Undershadow on July 16, 2008, 01:59:21 PM

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

Silenus

(http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/socyberty/2007/09/20/60834_11.jpg) http://www.socyberty.com/Folklore/10-Ancient-Gods-of-Beer.47169 (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).

Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: ffcal 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
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Seren on July 17, 2008, 07:57:52 AM

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

Silenus

(http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/socyberty/2007/09/20/60834_11.jpg) http://www.socyberty.com/Folklore/10-Ancient-Gods-of-Beer.47169 (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....
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: mgriffin 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.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: mgriffin 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?
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: hdibrell on July 18, 2008, 09:22:07 PM
That would be me. Talk about a wake up call :-[      Harry
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Exuviae 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
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: mgriffin 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.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Exuviae on July 24, 2008, 04:19:02 PM
I agree with you, Mike. I know some people that just don't care to have any kind of driving passion or interest in anything outside of what you called "busy work". And that, I find sad...
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: deepspace on November 17, 2008, 03:26:21 PM
I've just decided to start learning something new.  I'm going to be doing a psychology degree starting next year.  I've already gotten all of the textbooks and am pre-studying like crazy.  It's an amazing field, and I'm really excited about going into it. 

One of the more daunting sides of it is the statistical component, but as I am studying that, it suddenly doesn't seem so scary anymore.  When I first opened the textbook, I screamed and thought 'oh my god, what have I done!'  It looked so scary, like physics or something (I grew up with a bit of a math phobia).  But it turns out to be a little easier than that.

The best thing about doing this, is the massive surge of what I can only call *happiness* I experienced when I decided to do it.  I felt like a little piece of the puzzle had been moved into place.  I'd be feeling a bit despondent before that.  I think learning new things can re-route our brain, and stop us from travelling those same old paths over and over again, wondering why we are living with this slightly deflated sense of being. 

It might sound funny, but I hadn't realised how out of condition my brain had become- I was kind of taking the easy route, and now I felt more alert, and just more 'with it'.

Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Seren on November 17, 2008, 03:37:30 PM
after passing my diploma in 1999 Iworked in a provate residential care home for almost 10 years. Had lots of training, but only when I came into the public sector and started training there did I remember how good learning can make my head 'hurt'. I think that's the difference between training/learning that just keeps the boxes ticked and training/learning that really pushes the mind into really really thinking....
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: hdibrell on November 17, 2008, 10:02:55 PM
That's funny that you mention the "statistical component" as being a problem. I , too, had a math phobia. Back when I was in school (the early "70's) I got my degree in sociology. The one course I kept putting off was a statistics course. I finally took it the summer before my senior year. I was really dreading it. It became one of my favorite courses. I really got into it. I have to admit, though, that my all time favorite courses were in electronic music. Seven students in my first semester class and by the third semester only three of us hung around. It was like "heaven"  :)       Harry
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: cookie monster on February 12, 2009, 07:23:08 AM
I want to learn psychology.
A lot of counselors and psychosomatic medicine are not yet enough in Japan.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: jim brenholts on February 12, 2009, 04:19:40 PM
cool topic and some strange replies, indeed.
in my field it is mandatory that we keep up with continuing education so i attend at least 15 seminars a year - some 3 - 4 days long. i am also creeping towards my masters in counseling, taking 1 course per year at carlow. at that rate i will have it when i am 65 or so..
recently (about 5 years ago) i learned how to use acid pro and i have taken bass guitar and violin lessons. i will probably learn the Native American flute and maybe the clarinet, too.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: Ekstasis on February 12, 2009, 04:30:50 PM
Yes, as I feel right now, there is no doubt in my mind that my interest of learning new things does fade with time.
And I am not sure that to collect as much knowledge and read as many books as possible is the ultimate goal in life.
I have a more transcendental/cosmic approach to life, There is no definitive meaning of life as human on this planet we are born..  I see the life more as an dreamlike presence...
The meaning of life is to me to collect new experiences and just enjoy this mystery of life..And dream...
Music is for me the essence of my life, since it fills a void and makes me dissolve into inner dimensions and beyond...without it I think I would just feel a lot of emptiness...
Or maybe..I would find other passions to dispossess the time.
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: michael sandler on February 12, 2009, 08:41:24 PM
I have been toying with the idea of getting a master's degree in biomedical statistics. I have an undergrad in math, and I started a master's 20 years ago and didn't finish. Recently I have been thinking again about giving it aother try. I know for a fact my enjoyment of mathematics far outpaces my ability. The question will be, can I go just one more step? The thing about math is, no matter how hard you work, you will not advance beyond college-level math unless you learn how to think in a different way. It's not just a matter solving more complicated problems, it's learning to think in a way that is not natural to most human beings. Sometimes I think I get a glimpse of it, then it vanishes.

I've been reading a lot about set theory, which most math today is built on. Kind of like studying the customs of the natives before you travel. I also discovered that The Who goes well with set theory.

Bijectively yours,

MikeS
Title: Re: Do you still want to learn?
Post by: ambient789 on February 13, 2009, 08:21:54 PM
I attend community college part time and take IT classes. Going part time keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. One thing I'm trying to get involved with again is reading on Buddhism. I don't really practice the philosophy, even though there are a few things I like about it. Yet reading about it, people's experiences with it is quite fascinating and intellectually stimulating.

I can't give up on learning new things. Yet, I'm glad now that I have more freedom to pick what I want to learn, and learn about what is most important to me.