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life

A G I N G T H O U G H T F U L LY

Lifelong Learning.

by Dr. Mardy Grothe When Michelangelo was in his seventies, he drew a sketch of an old man—some say it was a rendering of Father Time, others say it was an image of himself—riding in a cart and looking at an hourglass. Just above the drawing, he wrote Ancora Imparo, a Latin phrase generally translated as “Yet I Learn” or “I am still learning.” The saying is regarded as the great Renaissance artist’s personal motto. For centuries, many tales have circulated about Michelangelo’s commitment to a lifetime of learning. In 1564, several years before his death at age 88, he was walking by the Roman Colosseum during a rare winter snowstorm when he came upon a church cardinal driving by in his carriage. “What are you doing out in a snowstorm?” asked the churchman. According to legend, Michelangelo said he was bound for the local academy. “Why?” inquired the Cardinal, to which the aging artist replied: “To learn something.” The idea of people vigorously pursuing knowledge into old age goes back to ancient times. In the 5th century B.C., Aeschylus wrote in Agamemnon: “It is always in season for old men to learn” (conveniently forgetting, I might add, that his observation applied equally well to old women). In modern times, the practice has been given a popular name—Lifelong Learning— and it is now commonplace to see elders committing themselves to audacious learning goals that would intimidate people decades younger. In his autobiography The Summing Up (1938), W. Somerset Maugham expressed it well: When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch’s statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long. In 1977, American philosopher Mortimer Adler was 75 when he came out with his autobiography, Philosopher-at-Large. Fifteen years later, at age 90, however, he confessed: “I wrote my autobiography prematurely.” As it turned out, he learned and experienced so much in those intervening years that he felt impelled to write a second autobiography, A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror (1992). In that book, he wrote: Our minds, unlike our bodies, are able to grow and develop until death overtakes us. This month, give some thought to how much of a lifelong learner you’ve been. As you do, let your thinking be stimulated by these additional observations on the theme: The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying. — Isaac Asimov One’s work may be finished someday, but one’s education never! — Alexander Dumas Anyone who stops learning is old, whether he halts at twenty or eighty. — Henry Ford I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. — Eartha Kitt The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. — M. Scott Peck The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning you’re not old. — Dr. Rosalyn Yalow

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Dr. Mardy Grothe is a retired psychologist who lives in Southern Pines. The author of seven quotation anthologies (all available at The Country Bookshop), he is also the creator of | “Dr. DECEMBER Mardy’s 2018 Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations (DMDMQ), the world’s largest online database of metaphorical quotations: www.drmardy.com/dmdmq/

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The Trading Traditions Issue

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The Trading Traditions Issue