40 Life lessons I learned before I turned 40: #8 Turn a detour into a trip to back to school

Never. Stop. Learning.

I was ambivalent about school. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. Mr. Aston, my eccentric British professor, made history fun, Ms. X, well, let’s just say if French is the language of love, German is the language of Hades thanks to her.

But somewhere in college that learning spirit kind of dried up. My last semester I had only 4 classes to take. 1 on Tuesday/Thursday at 1 PM, 1 night class, 1 weekend class and correspondence. I slept till noon every single day. Not a bad life.

Marriage and financial survival meant that learning wasn’t really on my radar much in my middle-20ies either. Then came 9/11.

To put 9/11 into context for us personally, we were scheduled to leave for the Sudan that month to teach English and learn Arabic.  All of the sudden, our plans are in the air. I’ve got a salary, and a mission, but nowhere to go except my basement.

Now, don’t let lost in the semantics of my next example. At the same time, a friend had given me a copy of Photoshop to “try.”  Photoshop, if you don’t know, is the end all of digital photo editing. Even back then. But I couldn’t get past the open program stage.

With no departure date anywhere near, I had the lightening bolt idea to try the library.

“Do you have any books on Photoshop?”

“Teach Yourself Photoshop in 14 days” became my companion for at least 4 hours a day. That led to learning video editing. That led to learning motion graphics. That led to learning advanced photography. Which lead to learning about business.  Over the last decade, I’ve acquired a whole new universe of communication skills, all because of constant learning.

All those skills have opened doors for me. All because I turned a forced 3 month delay into a short trip back to school. My choice.

I still choose daily. Find me somewhere, you’ll find me reading. Watching. Learning. Dissecting. Commenting. Writing. The internet has taken away every excuse to not become more. MOOCs, youtube tutorials, podcasts, they are can be part of our daily vocabulary.

You can’t catch up. You never will. But you can stay up, and that’s with constant learning.

So stop reading this and go watch a tutorial. Or read a book.

See you tomorrow.

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