My Own Little Renaissance

I went for a walk today after work.  I really didn't want to.  I was torn between passing the time before picking up my daughter from soccer practice by (a) stopping at the local taqueria and having a beer or (b) getting. in. my. steps.  

(If you say those last four words like you're the Economics Teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, you will capture something of my feeling about going for a walk.)

But walk I did.  I made the smarter choice.  I'm glad I did, but I'm also struck by just how hard it was to make that choice.  It was, like, super hard.  Like, teenager who can't get out of bed hard.  Like, tween who doesn't want to take a shower hard.  Like, toddler who doesn't want to hold hands across the street or do anything else remotely reasonable hard.  Made me feel very wimpy.

But I digress.  This post isn't about my walk, but about something I've discovered recently, which I was reminded of on my walk.  Here's what I have discovered: There is so very much I do not know.

Put another way: There is so very much to learn about in the world.  And this is a cause of great excitement for me, almost as if I am having a little renaissance of my own, in which the world is opening up to me, new ideas are pouring into my brain, new knowledge is layering on top of the foundations I've built so far in my life.  And I LIKE IT!

I am kind of excited about discovering how much there is to learn, and feeling hopeful about the process of adding new and different information to my life.  There are so many books and articles to read, and people to ask questions of, and things to contemplate.  Here are some of the great things I've learned lately:

  • I learned that Bob Dylan went through a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian stage.  HAD NO IDEA.  Fascinating.
  • I learned about Zora Neale Hurston's ethnography work, notably her work to interview and document the words of Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of the last known slave ship from Africa, which landed illegally in the US in 1860.  This story is remarkable not only for the story of Cudjo in his own words, but for the story of why her book about him, completed in 1931, has not been published before now.

        • I learned that there is a very cool little agricultural oasis, right in the middle of Berkeley, called the Urban Adamah. I walked past it on my walk, and surely would still not know of its existence had I opted for that IPA I'm still hankering for. My walk took me into a sweet little wooded path, behind buildings and alongside a creek, and eventually, the path meandered along one side of this little oasis. I spied winding pathways, vegetable gardens, a round building probably used for retreats, benches, canopies, fields, cool earthy looking projects...and nary a soul in sight. I walked around the front of the property to find out the name of this very peaceful, soulful-looking place.  And then I consulted The Google: Urban Adamah is described on its website as "an educational farm and community center that integrates the practices of Jewish tradition, sustainable agriculture, mindfulness and social action to build loving, just and sustainable communities."  I thought it was super ironic that they also have big NO TRESPASSING signs posted in several places and high fences all the way around it...but it looked absolutely peaceful and mindful.  I'm happy to live in a world where places like this exist, even if I won't ever be able to trespass there.  And yes, I would like to.  
        • I learned, no joke, that my great grandparents lived in a house in San Francisco in the very early 1900's, and they lost their house in the 1906 earthquake and great fire.  They lost their house, and my great-grandmother's brother lost his business: a bar at 1st and Mission.  HAD NO IDEA.  I've lived my whole life knowing about that earthquake and the fire that destroyed nearly the entire City, and never knew I had a close personal connection to it.  I also did not know there were bars in the family, before my mom and dad were the original proprietors of Murphy's Pub in Sonoma. 
        • I learned that in 1966, my father had front row balcony tickets to a London performance of Swan Lake, featuring Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.  Epic.  Absolutely epic.
        And those are just the things that popped into my mind in the last 10 minutes!  Those last two have me pretty much wanting to corner my dad, stick a recording device in front of him, and pepper him with questions.  There is so much to learn in the world, and in my own family.  

        I'm excited to know that I will always learn new things for as long as I live; as my friend Lori says,  "Just TRY to get through a day without learning something: it's not possible!"  I'm grateful that I went on that walk today: I learned something new and am reminded of how much awaits me.

        Pretty sure I can learn something from a good IPA too, but that will be for another day.

        What have you learned lately?


        Lara Wright said…
        Thank you, Monica, for reminding me, again, of the importance of cultivating a love of lifelong learning. And...the importance of going on walks without destination.
        Kate Hall said…
        Oh man. those are such cool ones... my kids spur me on in my curiousities all the time... are manatees squishy? is the newest one, but its less than easy to google... and i learned that my mom's grandfather built the table in her barn... pretty little nondescript thing is the oldest thing in town. pretty amazing.

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