I went out today to grab some tea and a little lunch after leaving work early, and stumbled upon a little cafe that I hadn’t been to yet, which is rare in this city. I ordered my lunch and sat down at a little table near a group of men and women that didn’t look too far off from my age, maybe a touch older, and couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation a bit. They were talking about life in a very general sense for a while, but then they came upon a topic that is very important to me, one that I feel should be important to everyone; Learning.
One of the men sitting nearest to me said something a bit shocking. He said quite causally, “I really feel like I’ve learned all I need to know in life”. His friends nodded and agreed with his sentiments, adding things like “yeah, I feel the same way” or “exactly, what else is there that we really have to learn?” I sat at my little table, sipping on my cup of Earl Grey, completely confused by the whole thing; how could there possibly be nothing left for them to learn? Have they explored every country? Read every book? Heard every song? Learned every language? How could they possibly have learned and absorbed all of this information, all of this knowledge, in the short few decades that they’ve been alive?
The short answer to those questions that raced through my mind is that they haven’t, and they never will. Not with that attitude and thought process. At no point in anyone’s life will there be nothing left to learn. Knowledge is infinite, and there will always be something new out there in the world that you have yet to experience, or even hear about. There are tribes in Africa with customs that we know nothing about. There are new scientific breakthroughs happening every single day that have yet to be published. There is new technology being thought of every second that has yet to be completed. There are new lives entering the world at every moment, that you may never have the chance to learn about. Even Johann Goethe, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Leonardo da Vinci left the world before they had the chance to learn everything, and just imagine how much more there would be for them to learn if they were to come back into the world today.
Learning is something that is immeasurably important to me. It is the thing that keeps me going every day. I hope to learn as much as possible about the world. I want to travel and see as much of it as I can in my lifetime. I want to sit down with people from different walks of life and hear their stories. I want to write my own stories, to add to the material out there for people to consume. I want to learn. For the rest of my life, the thing I want to do most is to learn.
Ancora imparo. These were the words I wanted to say to those people sitting next to me, the ones that thought they knew everything, but really knew nothing. Ancora imparo. The words uttered by Michelangelo at the age of 87. Translated from Italian, it simply means “I am still learning”. Even one of the greatest minds, the sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer, knew that he still had so much left to learn.
With that, this post of ramblings and thoughts is over. If there’s one thing you take from this, I hope it is that you can never be done learning. There will never be a moment when there is nothing left in the world for you to learn and explore.
I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.