Lifelong Learning

by Janelle Keane Campoverde, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner

The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing, which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.
— Merlin, The Once and Future King

When I was 30 years old, I found myself at the crossroads. My heart was broken. I wanted a different life. I couldn’t envision it. What were my dreams? A wise teacher suggested that this become my “research project:” identifying where my interests lie. So, I did. Within nine months I had navigated an unexpected, and a very different, life. I began a new career (Feldenkrais), I decided to relocate (Seattle), I eradicated my morning blues—life became more like a playground than the hole I had found myself in. I began to navigate a personal transformation by exposing myself to new art forms, new teachers, new disciplines. Then, I recorded my responses: interest, delight, boredom, etc. I was receptive. I trusted my nose, so to speak.

Dreams may have to percolate until the time presents itself.

There are some ideas that we that we manifest and some that sit on the burner. The important thing is to have the idea. We can’t always know the steps that bring it to fruition.
My mother had a high school education. She always regretted that she hadn't gone to college. When her children were grown, there was a crisis in the family and we all thought: how will mom survive? She seemed so dependent. She recognized that now was her time and the result was that she received a Masters in Literature. She was commencement speaker at graduation. She was the old lady in the class and she loved it.

In my experience, learning and gratitude go hand in hand.

We receive so much from others, sometimes without realizing it. Consider people that have helped you along the way. Gratitude springs from this acknowledgement. 

For instance, I think about my new friend in 1992, Tinka. She asked me to teach her dance class after, coincidentally, having seen me dance in a class in NYC during the summer. Her encouragement led me down the unexpected path of teaching Brazilian dance. I never planned to teach dance. As a young performer, I did not include my dance experience in my resume. I always danced and took classes for the pure joy of it. Surprisingly, teaching dance has brought me deep happiness.

I also think of the people that helped to bring my son into the world. My friends. The treasures that my teachers have passed on. Musicians. As I reflect, the list goes on and on.

Gratitude is an intentional practice. The brain is programed to fixate on the negative for survival purposes. Gratitude is heart-centered. It brings us into reality.

Teachers are everywhere.

As I was giving a private Feldenkrais Functional Integration session, my student blurted out: "I have some ideas about your garden." She is a gardener. She re-imagined my garden and I worked with her side-by-side. I learned about the plants and how to create my ever-changing garden. It brings me great pleasure throughout each year.
The children I work with teach me to slow down and be present. Kids know that learning is fun.  If not, they won’t play with you.
Look around. Who are you learning from?  Who knows something you would like to learn? 
Although, in my writings, I often grouse about the Internet, I have also found it to be a vast resource for learning. Courses are available just by searching for your interests.
We are born learners. We are completely dependent at birth, unlike some animals that take their first steps just after birth. It takes approximately a year, if we're lucky, to begin to walk on our own. We learn it. 

Learning is enlivening.

To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.

Education discovers an increasing richness in the past because it sees what is unfinished there. Training regards the past as finished and the future as to be finished.

Education leads towards a continuing self-discovery; training leads towards a final self-definition.

Training repeats a completed past in the future. Education continues an unfinished past into the future.
— James P. Carse, A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. Director of Religious Studies at NYU for 30 years; member of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies; recipient of numerous teaching awards.