On Learning: Both A Lifestyle And A Goal


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.

I was fortunate enough to have great professors who taught me and eventually involved me enough to discover great things through learning. I was a tutor at one point, and experienced what it was like to be on both sides – listener first, then teacher – and it helped to expand my horizons into learning.

Nowadays, I do all my learning by being an autodidact, but I’ll always be grateful to my university days where my professors pushed me to thinking beyond what I thought I was capable of, and they encouraged me to reach new heights whatever it would be. They didn’t always agree with what I said, but I never felt they hindered me, rather, they helped me grow. I’ve learned much by looking to my professors as mentors and treating them with respect. I could see how deeply they were interested in their chosen fields and the joy in them when they could help us learn about whatever their fields were. I always got hyped when I could tell a professor deeply loved talking about their subject, especially when it was a class that I chose because of my interest rather than needing it to graduate. My professors held me to a high standard, and I felt motivated to try (how could I not with such great people encouraging me?), and that has rubbed off on me now. I am now my own teacher through autodidacticism. I am involved in my learning as my professors had modeled for me and what I broke away from them to do on my own. I was fortunate to have teachers who guided me in the journey to finding my path to my passions.

Learning is a passion, which is helped by my other passion of reading. They tie in together nicely. Both were somethings that were there for me when I realized something abstract could be there for me. What I mean by that, is that learning gave me something to focus on. Learning is something that I’m dedicated to. It can be detrimental at times because ADHD kicks in and suddenly I’m learning random trivia that probably won’t help me out in life, but it’s a great journey either way, which reminds me of the poem: Ithaka by C.P Cavafy and translated by Edmund Keeley, which you can find here at Poetry Foundation in full. There’s even a zenpencils drawing of it by Gav that I highly recommend checking out here. And a disclaimer by Gav is that: the man in the drawing is not Odysseus.

I was introduced to this poem by a great professor of mine shortly after reading the Odyssey for one of my English courses in university a few years ago, and I’ve read it a few times since. I haven’t read it since last year, but I ended up reading it again a few days ago. It speaks to me year after year unfailingly. I actually got a little weepy this time around as I read it, especially the third stanza.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

So you’re old by the time you reach the island,

Wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

Not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Honestly, the power of this poem is felt from beginning to end. It really brings out that the journey is just as important as the end goal. Ithaka is both the goal and the journey, whatever your Ithaka may be. I’m still trying to find my way through life. My journey is still going, and I hope it goes on for a long while yet. It’d be filled with adventure, of discovery. I know I’ll have my obstacles just as Odysseus went against the Laistrygonians, Cyclops, and others, but being stronger in our soul helps us to not let the negativity overwhelm us. We’re going to feel the negativity, but we don’t need to bring it into our soul to fester and set it up in front of us each time a flame strikes it.


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