Saturday, 21 January 2023

First new 2023 goal!

 After my last post discussing how I might, one day, make some New Year's intentions, and/or assess how 2022 went, I did start a blog post draft where I began writing down ideas. But this has already become a large collection of random thoughts, links to articles that appealed to me (but are major thought provokers in and of themselves) and memories and observations. It would take a large effort and amount of time to make all of that cohere into one blog entry, even though there probably is some order or pattern in it somewhere. Plus it is like a snowball rolling down the hill, picking up extra snow and other debris as it goes. I'm not sure it's entirely in my control anymore.

So instead what I will probably do is take pieces of that collection from time to time and see what I can do with them.

Today's piece is a dream I remember from my rather restless sleep last night. I had two dreams actually. In the first one our family was out camping, and we were having quite a good time, but then we had to pack up and my youngest daughter's boots kept getting misplaced.

Incidentally, this dream reminds me a bit of a recurring dream I had when I was younger. In the dream I had to catch a train, but would suddenly realize that I had lost my shoes. I would then spend a long time frantically searching for my shoes and miss the train. Eventually, I decided that if I was ever in such a situation, I would just get on the train in my socks. I then stopped having the dream. 

Anyway, after the camping trip the dream setting changed completely to the university from where I graduated, more than 20 years ago with my first degree (!). I was in the university as an adult, and my goal was to take some courses, just out of curiosity and interest. The only other criteria was that I really wanted to take a course that had a final exam, because I missed that experience.

The part about the exam must have been inspired by the fact that it is currently "exam break" in high schools. In waking reality, I have no desire whatsoever to take an exam.

But the notion of taking a course stuck with me after I woke up. The dream was so vivid. And suppose I really did take a course in something? There are plenty of things I am interested in. So I took a look at the websites of two local universities, just to see what was offered. Continuing education was mainly vocational classes with a certificate in this-or-that attached. I decided I do not want anything with a certificate or any kind of career application.

Then I took at look at the university's website for classics and religious studies. I have long wished that my education included more classical history and literature. Of course, there wasn't time to do everything, but if I could do it over, I would have made some different choices.

This was the blurb on the university website:

Hmmmmm, let me think about that. No, none of that actually interests me in the least. The website was full of this sort of aren't-we-so-relevant copywriting. I decided I do not want anything that attempts to be Relevant to Today's Concerns. If there is relevance to (my) contemporary life, I will find it out for myself, thank you. Just teach me about the thing.

This exhausted the obvious options for local education. If I was open to travel, of course there are many more options: short courses, conferences, retreats. But such things are also several orders more complicated to arrange, involving multiple negotiations and sacrifices and trade-offs that I don't particularly want to make or demand of others, especially not for a whim. The truth is that anything requiring my time and attention is complicated and difficult. That’s just the consequence of being embedded in family and work and my large web of responsibilities.

But, it’s still worth it to ask if there is something that I should do to grow or learn more. I also observe that in my life, transformative opportunities don’t present themselves as duty or necessity. They don't sound or look like: "This is The Way to Build Your Knowledge and Skills and Personal Network!"  They present themselves as joy and fun and exploration. It’s kind of like the universe poking me to see if I’m actually paying attention.

Who am I and what am I doing here?

So, well, that leaves (for now) online. I poked around a bit, exploring maybe 0.00000000000000001% of what the internet has to offer. I listen to podcasts regularly, so I want more than just audio. I don't mind spending some money. I want professional production.

Which brings me to my first new goal for 2023. I decided to try a course about history thousands of years old: the civilizations of Mesopotamia! It is offered through The Great Courses.

I got interested in Mesopotamia through The Lord of Spirits podcast and The Fall of Civilizations. I learned enough through those to intrigue me but I listen to them in bed so I also sleep through a lot. But ancient civilizations are fascinating to me, and while Greece and Rome are somewhat familiar through literature and movies Mesopotamia is less so. I have a total of 10 courses in my wish list right now but it seemed appropriate to start with the oldest history I could find.

I love the strangeness, the foreignness, the mystery. I love the fact that the people are all dead and there is no chance whatsoever that I can solve any of their problems. I love that they are humans like me despite their utter remoteness in time or space.  I am so excited to get to know them and the pieces of the puzzle that was their world.

The more mundane questions: How will I find the time and space to do this course with everything else in my life? Will I remember anything? That too is a mystery, and the only way to find out is to dive in.

I may use my other blog to record learning and progress. We shall see. For now, time to have a new experience!

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