I finally went back hiking last Saturday and  . . . Wow! I’ve never seen Elk Mountain so full of hikers. (And I’ve hiked it probably a hundred times.) Trails finally open, a lot of pent-up demand was being released!

It was many small groups and, of course, most everyone was making an effort to social distance—as well as one can on a mountain trail.

It was also great to catch up with a hiking partner, our last hike about six months in the rear-view mirror.

And catch up we did! “What a great time this COVID-9 hiatus has been,” she said, as she shared with me how she’d had to cut short her Mexican holiday to come home, but had replaced the time with three different courses she was taking to better herself and her career. So much to learn! So much to be excited about!

I talked, too, about the things I’ve been learning, formally and informally. Webinar courses, like how to publish books on Amazon Kindle—readers of this blog will know that I’ve done two in the past few months, as shown on the right—and things I’ve learned in that research. And other things I’ve learned from friends, through the exchange of thought-provoking articles to read and comment on.

And even a bit from social media; though usually more escapist than informative, it does tend to be provocative, and I suppose that triggered contemplation—or furious reaction–is also educational.

So, I’ve learned both intentionally and passively. I’ve learned by taking webinars; I’ve learned through my daily 15-minute commitment to my Spanish lessons; I’ve learned from doing research as I write; I’ve learned from provoked thought, whether from social media memes or reflections on mainstream news; and I’ve learned from provoked dialogue with colleagues and friends.

One of the last of those occasions was a week ago when a bunch of mostly retired guys (except me), a group that meets together about eight times a year, and interacts regularly through emails and social media, met for our own socially distanced event. We sat around the fire under the shelter in my friend’s back yard, consumed volumes of food and drink and watched the sun set as we solved the problems of the world until well into the dark.

The next morning, feeling I’d not expressed myself well enough on certain topics the previous night, I emailed the Introduction to my latest book to one of the participants (without identifying its authorship). Inspired, he went to Kindle and ordered the book.

Two days later, this 74-year-old buddy enthused to the rest of the group: “Hey guys, we have a published author in our group . . . and I learned something new from Ron’s book . . .”

I hadn’t really expected him to learn much from the book; it wasn’t exactly aimed at the retired, who’d come through their careers successfully and emerged in a comfortable state. But I was honoured at his enthusiasm.

It also reaffirmed something I’ve said before, and firmly believe: The day we stop learning is the day we start dying.

What have you learned during the great COVID-19 lockdown of 2020–besides all the education about coronaviruses, PPEs, WHO’s, Wuhans, conspiracy theories, social distancing, world geography, the names of the premiers and medical health officers in all the provinces, masks, border shut-downs and camping reservation nightmares?

Has it been a time of learning, formally or informally?

How are you a better person today because of the opportunities this hiatus has proffered?

Just wondering . . .

Gotta’ to get back to my research and writing: “33 More Actions to Survive and Prosper . . .”