As I grow older (albeit – I am still young, HOWEVER), one of the things I am appreciating more and more about life is my mind’s ability and unlimited desire for new knowledge. LEARNING, in essence. In my not-so-distant youth, I had a hard time caring about the things I was being forced to learn in school. Even in the trips that I’ve had the privilege of taking to other countries, I never really truly cared about the history of the places I was seeing. And now I am really regretting my lack of interest while I was abroad.
This semester, I am taking an Art History class; I never would have chosen it for myself, however, it’s a pre-requisite class for my major and so I HAVE to take it. I was seriously regretting it. Like, nails on a chalkboard, pulling teeth.. Yes, that drastic of a dislike. My interest in history has never been too deep. Take me back a year or two? Sure.. But all of the time leading up before my birth? WHO CARES? Okay, I’m not THAT selfish, but you get the idea. History – not my thing. Until this class.
Maybe it’s because I AM getting older and I AM (believe it or not) maturing, but for some reason this class really made something in my head click. From the first day of class, I was drawn to the subjects in which we were learning. This class focuses on the Paleolithic Era through the Middle Ages; times in history where we don’t even know things for sure, because they are pre-literal and nothing is written or documented. And maybe it’s studying these periods of time, where people truly had hardships, and had to move every single day in search of their next meal, that make me realize that learning is important. In so many ways, we as a people have made so much progress in all of this time (roughly 30,000 years), and, yet, at the same time, we have really learned nothing at all. History DOES repeat itself. There were wars, battles, takeovers, royalty, etc. And there still are today. There was slavery and inequality in women, and in some places in the world, that is still happening today. How can such a technologically advanced culture be SO ancient in every other way?
I guess this post is for those of you who think you don’t want to go to school – that it isn’t for you. If you have the opportunity, if someone will help you finance it (goverment, family, whoever), DO IT. GO TO SCHOOL. Maybe not now, but it’s NEVER TOO LATE to get an education. There are 70-year-olds in some of my classes at Sac State. I am almost 27 and I’m FINALLY realizing the value that learning can bring to the self. I don’t necessarily believe that having a degree is the most important part of having an education, but absorbing and maintaining as much knowledge as possible – I believe that THAT is where the value of getting a degree really lies. After all, knowledge = power.
And, yes, I’m going to say it. Our society is DUMB. We are LAZY. We want a five-hour-shift restaurant job because it gives us time before or after to go out partying and “stay young” forever. *Sidenote: I will say that restaurant jobs do have the perk of allowing people to get an education while staying gainfully employed. America has this ridiculous Peter Pan complex. I won’t deny it, it wasn’t too long ago that I was still holding on to this fantasy of youth as well. But at some point we have to let go. Our brains are the most amazing organ we have. We are the only species (to our knowledge) that have the ability to walk and talk and go into a classroom and learn. Why are we lowering our own standards by getting sucked into the party scene? I don’t know if you know anything about Sacramento, but there is a significant population of homeless drug addicts that live in the downtown area. I see them all the time. In the dead of summer, wrapped in woolen blankets, sitting on a curb, rocking back and forth and chattering to themselves. Is this really the society we’ve allowed ourselves to come to? Our brains are not weak! They are STRONG! They have the ability, if we allow them, to maintain and retain so much knowledge and information. I see these poor individuals every day, and I can’t help but wonder how escaping reality through drugs can be that appealing. It’s disappointing that certain individuals can allow themselves this fate.
Guess what? Nothing is predetermined. We decide our own fate. That’s part of the beauty of life. You choose your own path, you take yourself where you want to go. I don’t think I believe that we are weak to substances. I think we are afraid of struggle and afraid of challenge. We want the easy route. If things don’t fall into our laps, we get angry or upset and we use drugs to escape. I’m not sure I believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I hope that all of the people who lost their lives to substance abuse have the ability to look back and regret the fate they chose. I, for one, am so happy with the place that I am now. That I am lucky enough to have a family who will support me and help me pay for an education.
I guess the bottom line is.. Don’t be lazy. Don’t take the easy route. Look around at the people who have chosen “easy” – drugs, drinking, homeless; no clothes, no friends, no family. And look at what you can have when you challenge yourself and your brain. A home (even if it’s a studio apartment, it’s a roof over your head and place to keep the things you have), family & friends.. etcetera, etcetera! Most importantly, though, you will have a future, an opportunity for any kind of life you want! And if you want to give yourself over to youth and partying AFTER an education, then that’s your choice. But don’t soil the power your brain has before you even give it a fair chance.
As far as we know, we only get ONE chance at this life. ONE chance to prove to ourselves and to the people in our lives that matter (or maybe even those who don’t) that we can make it. And for everyone, the definition of “life” is going to vary a little bit. Some people strive for a mansion, and perhaps paid for by a job they don’t enjoy. Others live a meager life, but they LOVE what they do. But, again, the beauty of DECISIONS, and the power we have as individuals to make them. So take your ONE chance and make something amazing out of it. Push yourself beyond your limits. Don’t hold yourself back, no matter what. Believe in an afterlife, and the ability to regret once you’re there. You shouldn’t have regrets. You shouldn’t let fear hold you back. Every single day I am forcing myself to go beyond my limits, to push myself even when I absolutely know I won’t like the results. Live your life the way it’s been intended for living. It’s taken me to age 26-and-a-half to realize that life is precious, and a proper education is a golden opportunity. It’s never too late to take your chances, to move into the next phase of YOUR life.
Live a life you are proud of.