Grandparents are a rich source of life lessons. And we’re never too old to learn something new.
Monday Motivation: Never Stop Learning
My grandparents live on Fifth Avenue, across from Central Park, and I try to see them as much as possible. My grandma is 91 and my grandpa is 95. Thankfully, they are both in generally good health, but they’ve slowed down a lot in the past few years. These days they mostly stay at home.
Yesterday, I went uptown to join them for lunch to celebrate my birthday.
Although they move at a slower pace, my grandparents are still both of sound mind, and they exercise their minds regularly. My grandma likes to see movies when she can work it into her schedule. They read books together on their Kindles. My grandma likes to know what’s going on with my friends.
My grandpa shared with me some of his schedule. Every morning at around 5 am, he moves from his bed to his comfortable chair, where he reads books and news on his Kindle or iPad. He reads more during the day. He and my grandma eat dinner at 9 pm, and then he watches televisions for a couple of hours before going to bed around midnight. He records programs on his DVR, or watches movies that he rents through various online services.
Thirst for Learning
My grandpa has always inspired and amazed me with his thirst for learning. His quest for knowledge hasn’t been restricted to reading and studying; he has kept pace with the evolution of technology by learning skills to operate in the modern world. Over the years, I have witness him learn how to use a computer and email. He has the latest iPhone and iPad. He writes sermons in Word, attaches them to email, and sends them to his list of readers. He has a wireless printer, so he can print from his iPad. He shops online.
As he told me about his daily routine, my grandpa shared that he just got a new television: a Samsung that has a voice recognition feature. (The television apparently talks back to you, too, but my grandmother forced him him to disable those features.)
For some reason, I had a hard time wrapping my head around why grandpa would want a new television, and especially why he would want one that has complex connections to various accounts. He touted the clearer picture, but even still, it seemed like a lot to learn at his age. I suppose I had a limiting belief about the age at which you no longer need to care about the picture quality, or the age at which it’s time to finally stop the pursuit of learning.
Grandpa was eager to show me his new television, so after lunch we went to his study, where he gave me a tour of its many features. He pointed out the crystal clear picture. He deftly switched between the cable provider feed, his Amazon, Netflix and Vudu accounts, and his DVR queue. He seemed to be having some difficulty with the voice control features; reading the prompts instead of issuing commands. Once I showed him that he must hold the microphone button while he speaks, he had it down.
I turned to my grandpa in awe. I told him how he inspires me with his eagerness to continue to learn new things at his age. In the most matter-of-fact way, Grandpa told me that he learns something new every day. In fact, he said, he had just learned from me how to use the voice control function on his remote control.
Learn Like It’s Your Job
Just the day before, my friend Heidi Taylor commented to me:
You learn like it’s your job.
I do, because it is. This is something I’ve learned from my grandpa. Whether from correspondence courses, travels, reading, studying, or listening to other people, my grandpa has always pursued the path of knowledge.
Yesterday, Grandpa reminded me that the imperative to learn every day doesn’t stop when you reach a certain age. Every day that we are alive brings a responsibility to learn something new. Books are not our only source of knowledge; we can learn from any experience or interaction. Anyone we encounter can be our teacher.
My grandpa has been a teacher and mentor to me for 42 years. He has instilled in me a relentless curiosity and a love of learning. He has taught me that to live is to learn, and that every day we are blessed with the breath of life is a day when we can and should learn something new. I suspect that’s one of his secrets to living to his age.
As you set out in your week, remind yourself to be open to what you can learn from the world around you. And at the end of each day, ask yourself: what did I learn today?