Monday, July 26, 2010

Have You Ever Wanted To Go Back?

Youth, with all its energy, excitement and wonder is a time everyone wishes to least for a little while. While my 13 year old Francesca attended a 2 week long art session at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) this month, I had the opportunity to return to my younger days as well. While Francesca created, I audited a summer session philosophy course at a nearby university.
The course focused on logical thought, which is good...logic isn't exactly my strong suit. Each class, the material challenged me to consider the world from a point of view I wasn't used to. But saying that the course challenged me is an understatement; what the course really did was revitalize my brain. For two weeks, I was exposed to young people with intensely inquiring minds and powerful intellects. As I sat and listened to them debate issues with the professor, I swear I could feel new neural pathways forming.
On the last day of class, I was so sad. As I walked away from a learning environment charged with curiosity and discovery, I felt like I was losing something. I'd forgotten how satisfying it feels to stretch the mind past its usual limits. In addition to learning some new things about logic, and the thoughts of the philosopher John Stuart Mill, I also learned this:
If you want to revisit your youth, return to the thing that makes you feel alive. Maybe it's classroom learning, maybe it's a sport, or maybe it's an art from, like dance, music or acting. And once you've rediscovered that thing that makes you most excited, add a twist. Try to do something new within the activity of your choice; don't just do the same thing you've become accustomed to. Take a risk...who knows what you'll learn.