Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Enough Of What?

I just go on thinking that I have a lot to learn. And I hope I still have that attitude 30 years from now.

Tobey Maguire
I don't know how old Maguire was when he made that statement but 30 years from now I'll be 101 and I hope I will still be learning things, one way or another.

One has to have a love of learning, I think, to really learn anything. As an actor I spent hours on top of hours learning lines and what they meant. It didn't leave me much time for learning anything else. I managed to learn something about drawing and painting along the way, but most of my other education got left in the dust. Now I try to make up for it by learning what I can about a lot of things.

Why fill your head up with a lot of useless information, one might ask. Isn't what you know now enough? So called "useless information" leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding leads to wisdom, and of wisdom there is never enough.

There are three areas about which I wish I knew more: music, language, science.

MUSIC: I was a music major in college and got to know how to play a few instruments elementally. But my musical training was discontinued when I was lured away by the theatre. Now I know a lot about acting, and that is probably enough even though I know I could never know it all. But I maintain a great respect for composers and musicians. I learned to never underestimate musicians or to judge them by what music they play. I once met a guy who had an MFA in music from a big southern university. His specialty is the history and performance of Blue Grass.

When Benny Goodman performed and recorded the Mozart clarinet concerto people were amazed. I wasn't. The important thing about that is not that he could play it, but that he wanted to. Naturally.

I have books on music: harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and contemporary harmonics. I read them with interest but without a musical instrument to my name the learning is fragmentary and superficial.

LANGUAGE; I admire people who can read and speak more than one language as much of the world seems to be able to do. I have no gift for languages. I took a course in Latin in high school and one in French but I don't remember any of it. In college I took a smattering of Greek and of German but soon left them for life upon the stage. I can speak whatever language I'm looking at like a native, if I know the sounds, because I have a musical ear. People assume I must know the language because I pronounce it so well. I do okay with vocabulary but when it comes to grammar I'm lost.

Whenever I see something written in a foreign language I'm fascinated and want to know what it means, especially if the writing is in a different alphabet: Russian, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic or one of the Asian tongues. I stare at the characters and am amazed that someone can turn them into sounds and sense.

Right now I have a home study course in Latin which I'm struggling through. I also have teach yourself books on Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and Spanish. I fantasize.

SCIENCE; In college I took a course in Chemistry for dummies and a rather exhaustive introductory course in Geology. I wasn't interested in either one of them and retain very little information, particularly about Chemistry.

As a child I was very interested in Astronomy as many kids are. And I knew a lot about the Solar System. But what I knew then is no longer relevant. Today I have books and magazines about Mathematics and sciences. I enjoy watching the programs on science shown by NASA TV. I might have made a good scientist if I hadn't been handed a script and coaxed onto a stage.

I can write about the art of acting, but now in my procrustean retirement the greatest joy I have, other than writing and painting, is to read what thinkers have to say about their fields of knowledge and to learn some things along the way to my 101st year.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

1 response so far.


Thank you.

1 comment:

Arlene (AJ) said...

My field of knowledge and expertise has always been in the business world in accounting/math. I've always been able to remember a phone number or any number of a name, I never forget it, amazes so many folks. I'm like my father in that I never met a stranger, can stop and talk with anyone, I can always find something of interest to discuss with them. Also, I'm Miss Sociable...you need something planned, I'm there for you, I have great organizational skills. Guess that's why I'm the VP of our Homeowners Association, also co-head the Social Committeee, head up the Welcome Committee, plan our neighborly Tea Social and also put out a monthly newsletter to all the neighbors in our development. In being Miss Sociable it has made all the neighbors feel close to me and they will call be with whatever their concerns or needs are as they feel comfortable with me. I should be doing all of this for many years as my hubby always says I'm so mean I'll live to be 200.

I guess I've been blessed with finding comfort in helping others, works for me.

Your love of learning more about music, science, languages...all good fields to be interested in DB, keep at it. Your interests are more learning/knowledgeable types ones than mine, but what I've done works for me, so that's all that matters.