It’s that time of year again. Spiral-bound notebooks are only 17 cents at Meijer! What, you don’t get excited about spiral-bound notebooks? [I may or may not be hoarding spiral-bound notebooks for various reasons. Yes, I am a tree killer. But guess what? It’s a renewable resource. I’m not worried.]

Alas, it is indeed time for a new semester and the first day of school. I actually had two first days of school this week (yes, that’s possible).  One was as a teacher, the other was as a student. And I will report that the first day of school is infinitely more fun for a teacher than it is for a student. Much better to give than to receive, especially when the thing being given is a syllabus. Sorry kids, I know it’s rough.

I remember my worst first day of school. Believe it or not, it was the first day of first grade. Somehow, I managed to skin both knees while taking a trip on the merry-go-round. Not so merry after all. I have no idea what else I learned that day or even the whole year. But one thing I learned: never get on the merry-go-round with third graders. Age-old advice.

Don’t Stop Believing Learning

I know I’m kind of a nerd because I like school. That’s okay. I can live with that. But I think there’s more to this learning thing than we all want to admit. Learning is not a curse, but instead a blessing. One that is intended to be used. And it’s essential to life.

You’ve been learning since you came out of the womb. You learned to breathe, to nurse, to find your mama’s voice. You learned to talk, to crawl, to walk, and run. And all this before you even had your first day of school! It was all necessary to your growth.

So now, after eighteen first days of school, I wonder why we think we can stop learning after graduation! Your mode of operation is learning. It’s what you’re best at. So why quit now? I’m not saying you should necessarily pursue every kind of academic degree, but that you shouldn’t stop learning—in any area of your life—once you’ve donned a cap and gown. Or two or three.

It doesn’t have to be in a classroom. You don’t always need a teacher. You probably won’t even have to write any papers or get any grades. But whatever happens, don’t stop learning.

Yes, But How?

1. Read. Read anything you can get your hands on. Engage your brain. Be discerning. But read.

2. Ask Questions. Don’t let anything go by that you didn’t explore. Find the expert. Be annoying.

3. Do Stuff. Try something new. Take up disc golf. Write a poem. Go Kayaking. I don’t care. Just DO something!