How to be an Eternal Student

We lose our curiosity by age 12. I read that in another Medium article by Danny Forest. It’s a fantastic article about reinvention, and you should definitely read it. But it sparked in me a visceral reaction. “I still ask a million questions about everything.”

 

I’m not certain that I’m the outlier, but I do know there are people who absolutely lose their curiosity by age 12. And that scares the shit out of me.

 

That means that there are high school students who are done challenging themselves. That’s not to say that they won’t learn anything new. But it does mean that they are done challenging what is being presented as true.

 

As Danny Forest explains further, school does a great job of giving every type of student the exact same information. That’s how we end up with good students and “bad” students. It’s reminiscent of the Albert Einstein adage about how we judge people’s abilities.

 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

 

I could go down a rabbit hole about how broken the United States educational system is, but I’ll save that for another time. But the adage highlights how we must not only adjust how we teach other people but also how we learn from others.

So how do we become eternal students if it doesn’t come naturally to us? These are the things that I notice when my curiosity strikes and I believe can help unlock your student mind.

Question Everything

This one is arguably the most important thing. It’s easy to learn without asking questions. It’s more beneficial to learn by asking questions. Even as a kid, I questioned everything. And I don’t just mean a simple “Why?”

 I always hated math class (ironic because I now love working with numbers). But I used to wonder how much of algebra, calculus and the like that I would actually use in my everyday life once I got older (spoiler: none of it).

The same is true of my life now. Any time I’m presented with new information, I want to know more. I love playing devil’s advocate to see the other side of a situation and attacking every angle.

It slows my decision-making process sometimes, but I always feel like I’ve made the right decision when I do.

Pay attention to what the people who tell you “no” are saying

I was recently listening to a podcast that highlighted this skill perfectly. On Rich Roll’s podcast episode with Alex Banayan last June, Alex told the story about his pursuit of Bill Gates for an interview. It’s a long, winding road and I highly recommend the podcast.

The part that stuck out with me was when Bill Gates’ Chief of Staff told him no. Alex was attempting to write what eventually became his book, The Third Door, and was trying to interview Gates for the book.

When Gates’ Chief of Staff told him no, he also said that if Alex could get a book deal and some momentum, he’d reconsider it. So while Alex got a no, he also was told exactly what he needed to do to get a yes.

Very rarely will anyone tell you no without an explanation as to why. The why is exactly what you’re looking for in this situation. The why is what you need to gain in order to get the yes.

Google It

Google is your best friend. We can find any information that we want if we search for it. I have a rule: if I have a thought and want more information about something, even something “meaningless”, I Google it.

I’ve always wanted to write. When I was a teenager, it was poetry. Through my early to mid 20’s, it was blogging and shorter pieces. And for the last year or two, my focus has been on novels and longer form pieces. And to be honest, there was a bit of imposter syndrome with those ventures. I’d start them, but I’d struggle with my own self-doubt and they fizzled.

Again, I knew I wanted to write, but these more straightforward methods weren’t clicking. So, I googled. I searched for ways to express myself that weren’t those traditional paths. And I stumbled upon screenwriting.

I love well-done movies and television, and I love the marriage of writing combined with the visual representation of those words. It’s something that I dove headfirst into and I don’t have the imposter syndrome feeling. It feels like home.

Always verify your sources when using Google. There are a lot of pages of information, but only some of them are accurate and factual. Do. Your. Research.

Operate from what you DO know

Begin from a place of what you know for sure, and work out from there. I knew FOR SURE that I wanted to write. The problem wasn’t the writing, it was the outlet. Having an awareness of what you DO know allows you to only pursue what you don’t.

If you are about to start a business and you know a lot about the day to day operations but a lot less about marketing, which are you going to study? It does you no good to ignore the marketing aspect because you’re going to need both.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to get better at something you are good at, but there is sometimes more to be gained by taking something that is a zero and making it of value.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Being an eternal student isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. What is easy is existing in what is known, never trying to grow beyond that safe space.

 

But if you want to grow beyond that safe space, knowledge is power. Taking that more difficult road and developing those muscles is not easy. But it’s well worth the investment.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Photo by Debbie Pan on Unsplash

Balance

How do you balance
being broken and whole?
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
You spend years,
a decade in turmoil.
The tornado is here,
it’s pulling you where it pleases.
You flail in the wind,
a rag doll torn to pieces.
It pulls you along with it,
months, years pass with no end in sight.
And as sudden as it began,
it ends.
Leaving nothing but destruction in its wake.
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
 
You begin to rebuild.
The process is slow.
The tape, glue, adhesives
struggling to hold the fragments.
Your new form likened to that of a newborn,
malleable, capable of intentional design.
Then, they harden.
You no longer worry about the inevitable collapse.
You get stronger,
knowing your past,
but hopeful for the future.
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
 
Most days, it’s smooth sailing.
Clear skies.
Not a worry in the world and sometimes,
you don’t even think about your past.
But on occasion,
the skies darken.
The tornado emerges to whip you ’round,
each time breaking you a little less.
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
 
Even if you become immune,
the storm failing to break you,
the storm will come.
Its inevitable reminder of what it can do.
What it has done.
A reminder that you are both broken and whole.
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
 

Changes

Hey everyone,

I’m sorry, but I have more changes. I’m going to spend less time on here posting articles in the future to pursue screenwriting and other more long-form pieces. That’s not to say that I won’t write on here ever, just less. This isn’t something I’ve decided on a whim. But one of my intentions this year was to listen to myself more, and this is where I’m being pulled right now. To anyone who enjoys my writing, thank you. You give me the motivation to keep going when I feel completely drained. So keep your eyes peeled for more to come!

Liam

Just One

It only takes one.
It always starts as just one.
That’s the lubricant,
the grease that smooths the transition
to number two.
Two was a good time.
Two won’t leave you feeling bad or acting out.
You can have just two.
But then there’s three.
Three wasn’t so much a choice.
It was a calling,
a conch shell begging to be heard.
And once you find the source,
there’s four, waiting for you.
Four leads to five and now you’re in trouble.
Six and seven come just as quick,
and now you’ve lost track.
It goes black.
 
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
The room is spinning as you lay your head down.
“How did I make it to my bed?
I hope no one got hurt.
I can’t keep doing this.
I can’t.”
Or maybe, just one.
~     ~     ~     ~     ~
Photo by Thư Anh on Unsplash

Dirt Church

Sunday comes again,
same as the week before.
My shoes firmly on my feet,
I reach the sacred temple.
I see the same people every week,
wearing their Sunday best,
searching for absolution.
The wood is firm,
holding us in place,
keeping us focused.
We are both preacher and choir,
our breath, call and response.
The longer the service,
the closer we come to truth.
And only when we’ve found our higher power,
and confessed our sins for the week,
do we feel complete, whole again.
Next week will come calling,
same as this and those prior.
And we’ll congregate again,
our dirt church calling us home.
~     ~     ~     ~     ~

No Words

I have nothing.
As I bleed out on the floor,
the black ink running,
I begin to wander, wonder.
Have I reached the peak;
Realized the potential of my dreams?
Have I excavated every ounce of my soul?
Dug deeper down than before thought?
 
I have nothing.
No more to give.
The worker bees have gone home.
It’s just me,
alone,
nothing left to do but close my eyes.
There are no words,
only time.
~     ~     ~

Calling

Head full, needing relief,
the trail comes calling.
It’s song luring,
a dog whistle for the heart.
The path uneven,
the dirt compact,
the trees engulf me in their silence.
The winding road,
weaving its way between the roots,
takes me further into the unknown.
Where will it lead?
What will I find?
Who will I discover?
The answer,
as I’ve found many times before,
is myself.