They say that learning new things is good for brains, especially old brains, so I make an effort to keep mine supplied with new words, facts, and ideas to ponder. It keeps me busy, and mostly out of trouble. My mother always said that was important.
I recently signed up for a “word of the day” email from Dictionary.com and learned that ataraxia is a “state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety”. We certainly need that word if we are to survive the daily onslaught of emotional disturbance created by our new administration. And bonzer is an Australian expression meaning “wonderful”. I hope you have a bonzer day!
I also spent one of my holiday gift cards on another “Don’t Know Much” book by Kenneth C. Davis. I read a library copy of Don’t Know Much About History, but after reading Don’t Know Much About the Bible, I bought a copy and have read it twice. My purchase this weekend was Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents. It’s a fascinating look at why we have a president, how we elect one, the powers of the executive branch, and the terms of each former president. All of them were a combination of saint and sinner, leader and puppet, and most accomplished things that were only appreciated in retrospect.
I’ve been researching Caddo’s history for twenty years so I’m a bit startled when I learn something new about the little town’s past. That happened this week while I was researching an article I’m preparing for the local paper. I read the information, read it again, and thought “where has that been for the past twenty years?” Of course the answer is hiding in plain sight. The internet and newspaper archives have allowed me to research sources that simply weren’t available to me even five years ago.
I’m taking my birding skills to a new level this year by learning more about the birds I photograph. In the past I haven’t read much more than the description provided for identification. Now I keep a bird guide next to my chair in the living room. I alternate between reading my Bible, a novel, a non-fiction book, or the bird guide when there are stupid commercials and mindless programs on television. As you can imagine, that gives me a lot of reading time! So I study the different birds that are common to our area and then observe their behaviors.
I’m attempting to learn more about photography and improve my skills, but this is always where my brain gets foggy and my creative side starts whining. Much of the technical side of photography involves numbers and numbers remind me of math and….math was never my forte. So “trial and error” will no doubt continue to be my mainstay, but I promise I’ll try to learn something new.
My brain has actually been on “overload” because of all the new things I’m learning about the history of education in Oklahoma, Bryan County in particular. Nearly everything I thought I knew was based on “Little House on the Prairie” and a few history lessons taught during my own education. And nearly everything I knew was wrong. The reality of how our ancestors were educated has been the focus of my attention for six months now and I can’t wait to share the results when my new book is published.
Yes, there are so many things I didn’t know, things I still don’t know. Teaching my brain those new things should keep me busy for another twenty years.