Advice from my father: Learn new things

Dad was
always cutting out articles of interest, reading books and attending classes.
He loved to learn and I am sure his commitment to ongoing education helped him
live as long as he did.

 

One of
the articles he read contained the following list that he transcribed and kept
in his daily view:

 

 Tony Clennett: List  What 80 year olds
advise 50 year olds need to do so   they are ready for retirement:  

1. 
Learn new things  

2. 
Develop lots of interests  

3. 
Find useful ways of connecting with the world  

4. 
Cultivate important family relationships and friendships  

5. 
Take steps to protect your health  

6. 
Throw away the scorecard  

 

I would
argue this list, as helpful as it might be to people contemplating retirement,
is relevant for any adult who finds themselves busy with life and wondering
where the time goes.

 

My
father was a shining example of learning new things. In fact, sometimes he
would become slightly obsessed.

 

When my cousin, Virginia, married her Brazillian
husband, also Tony, Dad became very interested in Brazillian music. When Mary
married her English husband, Sam, Dad spent hours learning about the famous
English architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens who re-designed Sam’s family home, the Ashwell Bury and the
renowned British horticulturalist and garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, who
designed the twentieth century garden of the Bury.

 

In Fiji Dad immersed himself in the Fijian culture
and, as a result, endeared himself greatly to the local staff at Fiji Inland
Revenue, where he worked for two years across 1977 – 78. The Indian food in
Fiji inspired Dad to cook curries, and he took pride in grinding his own
spices.

 

Dad greatly enjoyed painting and drawing, and had some
talent, producing many paintings and sketches. He especially enjoyed drawing
illustrations on birthday cards that he and Mum sent to their six
grandchildren.

 

Dad also taught himself woodwork and made three desks
and other household furniture that are still in functional use in the family
home.

 

I have had a lifetime attempting to follow in my
father’s footsteps. From what I have learned from him, and picked up myself along
the way, here are my suggestions to help you learn new things:

 

1.  Join your local library  . When the books are free you’ll be more inclined to
try a left-field subject to read about.  
 

2.  Complement your reading with audiobooks  : The beauty of audio books is that wherever your
phone is, your books are. And you can absorb a book whether you are driving,
using public transport, waiting in a queue or on a plane. You’ll be amazed at
how much more you’ll gain from a book when you listen to top quality narration.  
 

2.  Learn something that requires a mix of
physical and mental challenge  : During my recent
holiday to Queenstown I had snowboarding lessons. Although I can ski, I have
never snowboarded before. My triumph was making it down the beginners’ slope, twice,
without falling. The mental and physical effort required to learn snowboarding
greatly exceeds that of skiing (it hurts more because you fall more) and, as a
result, I found it an intoxicating mix.  
 

3.  Have a much younger person teach you
something  : Having my 8 year old son teach me various Wii games
(so he could beat me, of course) was a great change in the dynamic of our
relationship, and it also had me understand more of the world that absorbs his
time and interest.

 

4.  Explore other cultures  : One of the highlights of my trip to Phuket last year
was visiting the Thai Hua Museum in Old
Phuket Town. I loved learning about the pre-mass tourism economy of Phuket (tin
mining) and I discovered that there was a fascinating connection with my home
state (the first tin mining machinery used on Phuket was originally used in the
tin mines of Tasmania’s west coast).

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