The idea behind the book is to embark on a journey to broaden your mind, to learn new things or learn more about areas you are already interested in. Cummings, the author, looks on generalists and dilettantes with glee. Learning more about more seems to be her mantra.
Too busy? Cummings recommends the Japanese concept of kaizen, taking baby steps, making reasonable, not too strenuous commitments. A lot can be learned or accomplished in 20 minutes, two or three times a week--so design your own curriculum and make a commitment for 3 weeks or 3 months or whatever seems reasonable.
I'm almost through with the book now, and I've already begun a journal dedicated to the book and my journey toward a Renaissance (and Vigorous) Mind. Originally, I planned to use the handmade journal Megan gave me for my birthday as a "destination" journal--where I recorded places I'd like to visit and made notes, etc.
Now, I'm so glad I waited because the journal is perfect for my thoughts about The Vigorous Mind, my plans, my lists, my evaluations. The pages are smooth and creamy, a pleasure to write on.
The lovely handmade journal Iliana sent me was already where I recorded thoughts on yoga and meditation, so it is perfect for continuing my study of yoga.
Here are some of the courses in the "curriculum" I'm designing for myself:
- learn more about yoga; learn more about the background,terms, and about the asanas and their purposes (20 min., 2-3 times a week, for 3 months) This is just expanding on something I'm already interested in.
- include walking and weights as part of my fitness program (10-20 min., 2-3 times a week, for 3 weeks--then evaluate and decide whether or not to continue)
- read more nonfiction, especially biographies (at least one nonfiction book a month--which won't be difficult if I choose well, for a year)
- watch 2 documentaries a month on a wide variety of topics
- order some magazine subscriptions to Smithsonian and Mental Floss
- something relating to textile arts--I'm still thinking about this one, something that would broaden my knowledge or my give me a goal of some sort...
I've ordered books, checked out books from the library, and ordered documentaries from Netflix. The documentaries are on wide-ranging topics, but I tried to keep Fee in mind when I chose many of them.
The whole process is right up my alley--I'm a dabble here, read a little there, learn a little about a lot of things kind of gal. The last few years, however, I've slacked off. After retiring from teaching, I've reveled in bon-bon reading and an intellectually relaxed atmosphere.
Yet I've always loved learning (not necessarily the same thing as school) and admired autodidacts, and the timing seems just right to pursue things in a slightly more organized , yet still in a desultory, relaxed manner. Time to expand a little, mentally and physically; time to explore things that have always interested me and things that have never really been on my chart.
What else is on my long list of things I want to do or learn -- studying Italian again after about 10 years, taking a cooking class (it is never too late to learn, right?), reading my camera manual (duh!), learning about classical music, learning more about reiki, go hiking and maybe eventually make a little of the Appalachian trail in the future, go on a retreat (quilting, yoga, or just spiritual)....
Over at Kim's blog, SkybelleArts, I discovered this challenge--Creative Every Day. It will fit in perfectly with my self-challenge because a vigorous mind, a Renaissance mind, is a creative mind, and creativity runs the gamut, the entire range of human activity...