10 years, a decade come and gone. Many adventures and memories both good and bad are now intermingled in our own personal history.
Many of my fondest memories were things I learned throughout the years, both in school and propelled by my own curiosity to know more and grow more. Many times people struggle to know when to begin to learn something new, my dear reader today is your day- the New Year is a perfect time to learn a new skill! Whether you are learning for a strategic purpose or not I encourage you to try something new to enlighten your mind and to open your eyes to new wonders that await. Here are 10 things you can learn in this new decade- no need to worry about deadlines or grades- this is all in the glorious pursuit of knowledge
A New Language
Do you find yourself increasingly wishing you can speak French as an international language when you travel? Finding yourself intrigued by Russian literature? Does German frequently appear as a language in business? Are you in love with Thai culture? Commit yourself to learning a new language! Start this year by taking small steps of basic grammar and vocabulary, let each month teach you a new aspect of the cultures that speak that language. Is your language Swedish? Start by listening to Swedish music, watch a Swedish film and learn about Swedish folklore. Languages are a window to new worlds and as somebody who speaks 5, I implore you to join me on this language learning adventure!
Read the Classics
With the release of the new Little Women movie I'm seeing that wonderful story mentioned more and more. Read a little bit of Little Women every day. Other great works by authors such as Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens are waiting for you as well. Interested in women's issues? I implore you to read Austen's works! Are you touched by social justice? Dickens and Hugo are waiting for you! Is there a particular country you love? Look up classic works from that country and read to understand that culture better.
Pick Up a Craft/Sport
Does the idea of having a bow and arrow like Mulan make you smile? Do you admire beautiful knitted scarves and blankets? Start looking up Youtube tutorials and learn how to make and create new things. Learn how to play an instrument or pick up a sport from the archives of the internet- you can become your own Renaissance Citizen!
Write a Story or Poem
Another form of art is that of words. Read carefully as I take your heart to soar upon the wings of a great condor as we survey the landscape of humanity- volcanic politics, towering mountains of conflict and great plains of idle times.
A great way to stretch your imagination is to write a little story or poem. Just write what comes to mind and in the beginning it may be difficult, but as that scene unfolded it shall become easier and easier as we soar together.
Read a History Book!
I highly recommend "Story of the World" by Susan Wise Bauer. While it is meant for Middle School children it is a joy to revisit and kindle your love for history regardless of how old you are. Find a period of history that intrigues you and learn all you can about that period. History is not a bunch of dates and wars, but a story that encompasses and explains who we are today. Romance, revenge, betrayal, glory and triumph are all elements in the great story of history and I encourage you to let this captivating story bring you to understand new worlds.
Learn Fun Science
Does something in the world make you curious? Read a bit about the scientific research that is being explored and discovered every day! While this does not mean you can become a biologist or chemist (unless you want to of course!) knowing a little bit about the way things work helps the brain instead of just accepting the way things are- know why they are.
On Theology, Politics and Economics
The subjects all are "experts" on, and debates rage endlessly. I highly encourage you to read some of the classics of political theory- Rousseau's Social Contract is (for me) a helpful guide as is Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws and Locke's Second Treatise. Learn about Supreme Court cases and read the opinions of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Anthony Scalia- both on opposite ends of the spectrum but both wonderful orators. Learn the basics of policy and economics, and read all you can. Dabble into why people think the way they do when it comes to other religions, and read something by both those you agree with and disagree with. This is best done with a cup of coffee or tea as these works require focus. I first read Rousseau's works at the tender age of 14, and just now as a 25 year old on New Year's Eve re-read the Social Contract and found new things again.
Appreciate the Arts
While I am no artist, there is something magnificent about walking through the Capitol building or Notre Dame cathedral and admiring the architecture. Look up various periods of art or symbolism found in art. Read about one that intrigues you and point them out next time you are in a place of beauty. Learn about different forms of music and listen to some as you complete your next task.
To recall those days I spent as a young girl playing with a musical globe and memorizing every country of the world brings fondness. Set aside some time to go continent by continent with a globe or atlas- learn new facts about every country with the stroke of your keyboard. Look up Google Images of far off and beautiful places. Go to Youtube and watch videos of traditional dances and music from other places. Afterwards look up a recipe you would like to make from another country. Let the love of geography be awakened in you with each country you enjoy. Did you just meet somebody from Ecuador? Ask them questions about Ecuador! Read up a little bit on Ecuador and enjoy the beautiful pictures you find.
Talk to Somebody
The headlines say it all "the United States is increasingly divided", "polarization is on the rise in Europe!", "Protests abrupt across Latin America!" Clearly there are many causes to protest in the world today. But also, with polarization that signifies there are many people and aspects to society. Sit down and talk with somebody from a different ethnic or cultural background than your own- you will learn not only what makes us all special and unique but also what we all have in common.
And here concludes my list! While it is humble and short, these are 10 simple things we can all do in this new decade to enrich our own experience as humans enjoying this wonderful earth. While you do not need to become an expert on any of these tasks unless your heart desires, there is something to say about the quest of learning and experiencing all we can. I cannot wait to pursue these discussions with you my dear readers in the coffeehouses as we discuss all of the new things we are learning!
May this new decade awaken within us a desire to learn and know all we can. May we see liberty, equality and solidarity govern our hearts.
Vive la republique!