At one of the introductory life legacy talks I did last week at a local senior center, I had the pleasure of listening to a wise elder tell me about the most influential people in her life. She had the longest list I had ever heard from anyone and almost apologetically shared with me that she felt she has lived a "charmed" life. So many people had guided her and made a difference in her life. What a joy it was to listen to her.
At one point in our conversation, she pointed to a silver bracelet she was wearing, engraved with the words "ancora imparo". She said her son had given it to her. Of course, I asked, "what does it mean?". She excitely said with a beautiful smile on her face, "I am still learning!" The words, she said, were attributed to Michelangelo. Thank you, dear woman, for sharing your story and your bracelet's message with me!
Yes, I am still learning! In fact, "learning" has been one of my Top 5 Values throughout by entire life. In childhood, school was great refuge for me and a place where I could feel pride in my achievements and experience the joy of creating (neither of which I felt at home -- pride and joy being major "sins" in a Norwegian Lutheran community in western Minnesota). Going to college -- the first in my family -- was both exciting and challenging in the late 1960's (and finally graduating after 5 years of working sometimes nearly full-time while attending classes -- interrupted by getting called up for Army duty a quarter before graduating -- was a "triumph"). Then getting the opportunity to go to graduate school during my late-30's was an amazing learning experience, packed full of personal and professional growth.
While I haven't returned to "school" for nearly 25 years, I've been teaching "what I need to learn" ever since. Creating dozens of workshops and classes, plus many talks and presentations -- then sharing them with hundreds of people (thousands by now!) over the years has been a most life-enriching, learning-full, experience for me. And, yes, I am still learning!
What has learning meant to your life? When have you experienced the joy of creating something as a result of what you've learned? What values guide your life now? Write them down, reflect on what they have meant to you, and share your learnings with family and friends. When you're ready, create an ethical will or personal legacy letter to future generations of your family.