I don’t like classroom learning much. Almost doesn’t matter what the subject is, just being in a classroom is an excruciating experience for me. Too hot. Too ordered. Too boring. But still, I like learning.
I don’t much care for the topics that inhabit classrooms either. I prefer learning-by-doing or even better, learning-when-you-have-to. Learning on-the-job is good. Learning because you are out-of-your-element is even better. I think learning is the staff of life, really. And I love it.
Learning about history when you are traveling Europe makes it all make sense. Learning culture when you are living in an Asian country makes it come alive. Learning Spanish when in Mexico is good. Sal and I bought a sailboat and went sailing. Then we started to learn about sailing! Talk about getting your feet wet! But we learned and we learned quickly. Doing is the fun way to learn.
I have no doubt that even learning particle physics while at the Hadron Accelerator in Bern, Switzerland could be fascinating. A lecture on the subject? Not so much.
And, I think, the desire for learning was very much the motivation for leaving the cul-de-sac. To a large extent, that way of living was becoming boring (for me, anyway). No challenge (except financial, of course). I suppose I could have ‘gotten into’ my lawn-care regimen or become a BBQ expert or something. I could have learned how to coach baseball properly so that I didn’t offend the other parents (fat chance!) or I could have learned about retirement planning or something. But I had no interest. The milieu offered me little. And I offered it even less.
I needed a new venue. I needed a new playground. I needed a new challenge. And I really needed new neighbours. We had a bad peer group.
Two of our neighbours – a bit older than us – sold their house when he retired and moved to a planned community in which all the houses were painted the same, looked the same and had rules about keeping the same colour curtains on the windows. Cars had to be garaged. No washing lines. No gnomes or flamingos (not a deal breaker for us!). No dogs. The idea was extreme conformity. And they were über strict about it, too.
Penitentiaries have more variation and, surprisingly, more colour. The planned community chose shades of grey for everything. Prisons at least have the residents dressed in colourful orange. Well, at least they do in the movies, my main source of information. Splashes of crimson red here and there when disputes break out. Contrast at the very least.
No, we needed to get back into learning somehow……..and leaping-before-looking is definitely one way. It’s called ‘immersion’. We went for off-the-grid immersion. Wade into it hip-deep and start from there. Learn or die!
Seriously……..I don’t mean to make it sound flip. I don’t always advise leaping before looking, taking the plunge or rushing in where angels fear to tread but, really, if the script has been written, you know the story and you have done it to the point that you can do it again and again in your sleep, hasn’t some of the fun been lost?
Been there, done that. Needed fun again.
We really weren’t as spontaneous as it may seem. It took a few years to get to the jumping off spot. Hell, I found myself day-dreaming and reading up on things well in advance of even thinking about leaving much of which eventually stood us in good stead. I must have had some inkling as to where we were headed. I mean – I bought junk, didn’t I? I was preparing for something wasn’t I? Of course.
But, still, we had no idea what. Not really. And that, I think, was the truly essential ingredient in moving to a remote island – a desire for the unknown. The mystery. The challenge. The only thing we really knew was that we would be learning again. And the curve would be steep.
Hey! Even First Aid is more interesting when you need first aid!
And, instead of being bored, we were excited. Neat eh? I was 56, Sal 52 and we were excited. Looking forward. And feeling excited made both of us feel younger. Facing a new challenge, learning a new way of life, developing new skills, doing something we didn’t know how to do………it was like a sip at the fountain of youth.