Sometimes I think if one more person asks me if I’ve ever heard of Linus Pauling, I will just scream. As a natural health advocate for most of my life, it’s hard not to feel insulted when someone asks me something so ridiculous. Could they possibly be speaking of the two-time Nobel Laureate, founder of Orthomolecular Medicine, the Vitamin C Pioneer? That Linus Pauling?!
One part of me wants to ask, “Where do you think I’ve been the last thirty years?” and lay out a diatribe that will force them into submission. But then I catch my balance, and the lesson at hand. It’s all about lifelong learning. And that takes patience.
They needed to ask someone. They needed to share something important to them with someone who wouldn’t make them feel stupid or small. Somehow, they heard the compassion in my voice and sensed my patience when I did not interrupt them as they spoke. This was a victory for them. And it was a victory for me, as well.
People have a natural need to share what they know. Their excitement about what they have learned in their Aha! moment overshadows any thought that someone else might not share their enthusiasm. It doesn’t occur to them for a moment that they might be preaching to the choir. They only want someone—anyone—to listen. They want to share part of their lifelong learning journey with someone who will hear their voice. Someone who will be happy for them. Someone who will make them feel like they matter.
Today that someone was me. Tomorrow it might be you. Lifelong learning can strike anywhere at any time. Will you be the teacher or the learner? Will you be ready to step up to the plate, no matter which side of the lifelong learning platform you are on?
I hope that the next time someone tells you a funny but tired old joke, you will laugh. It’s okay to be the listener. It’s okay to let someone else be the teacher, or the messenger. Maybe it’s their turn to feel important, and your turn to make their day. How often do we get to do that anymore?
Be patient. Lifelong learning is a blessing and a gift, albeit an undervalued one. Sadly, the true value of lifelong learning is often realized only when we are no longer able to participate in it.
It’s Never Too Late to Be Great! ®
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