I believe that living and learning is the intersection where passion and excitement meet experimentation and knowledge. And, it is now my new favorite tag-line. It represents so much optimism, hope, and enthusiasm for life and for all the possibilities available to everyone.
I haven't always loved this old adage because I had heard it uttered too many times in a chiding tone that indicated that someone had goofed and the consequential lesson was not necessarily positive. In any case, I have, until recently, viewed this expression with distaste and unease.
Why has my perception of these three words changed so drastically? As mentioned in this recent post, I have come to realize that living involves an uncertain number of errors; those mistakes are what allow us to acquire a new understanding about ourselves and about the world around us. Blunders are essential to the very act of being alive.
This expression, however, is not relegated to the learning accessed from simply making mistakes. It also conveys the pure joy of following our passion and interests to the conceptualization of new ideas that lead us to new growth experiences.
Most of us would say we can't follow our passion, because we need to earn a living to support ourselves and our families. I watched this YouTube clip a few years ago of Alan Watts where he asked, “if money was no object, what would you do?” What if you allowed yourself to take the chance and followed your interests? Think about it ...
Now consider asking a young person, “if school and a diploma were no object, what would you do? Yes, living and learning without school really is an option open to anyone.
A couple days ago, while pondering these previous ideas that were just not coalescing into a blog post, I was staring absently out the window at the impenetrable wall of dense foliage that surrounds our house and the following analogy quite literally popped into my head: Goldfish will only grow as big as the tank they are housed in allows them to. If they live in a five gallon aquarium, they will always be smallish fish, when they are released into a backyard pond, they will have the opportunity and space to get much larger.
Now reflect on this: When we (humans) confine ourselves within cultural norms, like those pet fish swimming 'round and 'round in circles, we will only develop within those constricting ideas.
When we can ignore societal messages and live our lives according to what makes us happy, we quite literally open up the space in our hearts and minds for passion to thrive. Embracing the philosophy of living and learning engenders open-minded free-thinkers who explore the possibilities and take the opportunities presented and who will also grow exponentially in the process. These pioneers are the people who have the great ideas, the ones who try, fail, and try again. They are the folks who delight in sharing the amazing tales of living and learning.