The progression of life is hard to see when looking into the future. What will we understand a year from now? Who will we meet? What challenges will we face? The future is filled with too much uncertainty never giving us a hint of what’s to come.
Yet when we begin to look back, seeing the years piling up, we remember when something good or bad happened to us—thinking about the mistakes we made. Opportunities missed. Things accomplished. The common phrase “I wish I knew then what I know now” echoes in our minds when we travel back in time. In doing so, how many times have we said this?
There is a feeling, more than a phrase, of “growing up for the 101st time” which surrounds me often of late while speeding past my mid-60s. Finding it puzzling, without a clear answer has intrigued me. When I recently shared this with a friend, they simply answered “You are a continual learner and I understand why you feel this way”.
It then occurred to me that I might not totally understand what continual learning means. Is it learning the technical aspects of a subject? Knowing how to do something by yourself? Knowing steps in a process or what buttons to push on a keyboard?
At one time, I most likely would have answered yes but today I will answer “no”. What time has revealed is there is a depth to everything that we either ignore or never consider when taking things simply at face value.
How things fit together. What is the relationship between the pieces? Why are they ordered? Why is something considered important? Should it be important? What are we trying to accomplish? Figuring out what’s missing. What else should be considered?
From here my mind wanders to what is it that I don’t know or understand. I now focus more on words shared asking for others to more clearly define them so I better understand what’s known or believed to be known while providing clues to what might be missing. The pursuit of clarity now fuels my quest for a deeper understanding as I age. Giving me a much clearer path to the next steps and decisions to be made with less hesitation when found.
Things continue to look different today than before because I now question more often when listening and exploring. Lifelong learning does this to us. To no longer easily accept things at face value. The more rigorous its practice, the more different the world continues to look. Changing more regularly with greater frequency because of this approach.
This leads me back to “growing up for the 101st time”. Understanding now, that life begins anew with each cycle of experiences, challenges, and explorations we choose to pursue. Making our attention, focus, and reflection the catalysts for discovery, personal growth, and newness in our lives regardless of our age.
A journey I am happy to be on and will continue to strive for giving me hope that my 102nd or 110th time will not disappoint. Discovering even more interesting things to explore and accomplish in a future that for now remains uncertain.