Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 453 (210) Continuing Education

A chilled, perfect orange; does anything start the day better? The color of it; the weight and texture of the surface. It is so promising. And then the slicing and the revealed fragrant and sweet fruit. The orange must come as close to perfection as is possible. Or, so I think. Oranges is the name John McPhee gave to a book he wrote back in the seventies. It described different types of oranges, the history of the orange migration into western civilization, the orange groves in Florida, the method of managing an orchard and bring in a profitable crop. I read the book because I loved the way John McPhee wrote and was in the process of reading all of his books. To this very day, when I slice my early morning orange, I think of the book and the colorful journey the it  has taken to my table. It makes eating the orange just a little bit more delicious.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

"Learning makes life more interesting," Miss Jo said. She was my high school psychology teacher. Has there ever been a truer statement?

Perhaps that is why our grandchildren have a million questions. They seem to be curious about everything. Although I do recalled reading somewhere long, long ago that curiosity is something that has to be taught to the very young. That is why we hide car keys in one hand behind our back and then ask them, "Where did the keys go?" We ask them, "What do you think is in the Christmas package?". We ask them, "What is that sound that is coming from outside the house?" We inculcate curiosity at a very early age. And it sticks.

When we retire, we still want to know what makes different parts of the world tick. We are curious. Google and Wikipedia answers many  of our questions today but what I really wanted to talk about are the answers provided by our community colleges.

They are an asset of which the retired can gain much. They are spread throughout the land on campuses or satellite classrooms. They tend to be within reach of most of us.

When I retired I tried to stay away from the classroom and any formal education. I did teach a few classes at a University in Human Rights Education. That was because of my interest and experience in both teaching and human rights work. But I did not have the slightest desire to take a class as a student. Forty years of my life had been revolving around a classroom and I thought that was about enough.

Years past. I found myself interested in traveling to Spain and Mexico. Brenda and I enrolled in two quarters of classes in Spanish at the Community College. Then there were classes in Italian. They were great. We happened on a notice posted in a coffee shop in Vancouver seeking people to study Italian cooking and Italian language at the same time. We got to learn a bit of Italian and prepare and eat delicious Italian food at the time.

And then there was dance. Ballroom dancing classes carried my wife and I though five or six years of weekly fun. Eventually we were going three times a week; fox trot, waltz, rumba, salsa, swing, cha cha, mirange, night club two step and the sultry tango. What a great subject for study. We started the classes at the community college. You touch one another, look into each other's eyes, move together, and laugh together. Seems like something must be wrong with that.

There was another class stuck in there somewhere by a financial specialist on retirement and money. It helped clarify our money issues and set our mind at ease through greater understanding.

My latest community college class was on creating a web site using Dreamweaver software. It was very helpful and now I have my mind set on finding another class that might help with my podcast project.

Community college can be invaluable. No test, no grades, no attendance taken, and low cost; seems like a source that most retired people would find very appealing. It also allows us a place to meet people within our community - that's a bonus. Here is something you may want to check out if you haven't.  

Miss Jo's statement seems as true today as every, "Learning makes life more interesting".



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