My generation was probably the first to be cautioned in high school that we needed to be lifelong learners. At the time, the term was new, and I don’t know if it is in common parlance anymore, but it has certainly been a hallmark of my life and my career. Fortunately, I am an avid reader.
A couple of years ago, National Public Radio exposed me to a new term for what I do naturally: polyreading. I have a selection of books beside my bed suitable for bedtime reading. I just finished reading Rodin’s On Art and Artists and currently on the bedside table are Time and the Dancing Image (a history of dance); The Queen: The Life of Elizabeth II (a sympathetic biography of a reigning monarch who has dealt with a great deal of leadership challenge in her life); The Willows at Christmas (yet another of Horwood’s contributions to the Wind in the Willows tradition); and A Christmas Promise (one of Anne Perry’s Christmas mysteries). Obviously, I don’t read about work-related topics before bedtime.
There are books beside the couch appropriate to waking up and here the work-related reading begins. Currently, I’m traversing an advance reader copy of Sandra Suran’s The DNA of the Resilient Organization. There are books in my office related to whatever I’m researching right now. Rollo May’s Power and Innocence and Eoyang and Holladay’s Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization number among those along with a stack of articles I’m reading for a presentation I’m putting together on double-loop learning.
My idea of a good weekend is one in which I get my “to do’s” done, and I still have time to read a whole book in that focused, sunk-into-the material way that feels so good where the hours fly by and the book is a fascination or a delight. Someone once told me that Alaska has the highest average educational level in the nation because of the long, cold, dark winters. Here in Portland we have something in common with them: long, wet, dark winters.
Today I was cutting back the pineapple sage by the front door which was covered with bright scarlet hummingbird-attracting blooms until a heavy frost just a few nights ago. Yesterday, the sky was unusually bright with a strong wind that cut right through the intrepid gardener—ergo my gardening getting done today. In today’s calmer but still plenty brisk weather, I was reflecting on the dark days to come, trying to determine whether I really did have enough fire wood and candles, and thinking about the long evenings and wet weekends of reading ahead of me. I have a hummingbird feeder on my office window and hummingbirds entertain me all winter long. They are intrepid little people and inspire me again and again.
My bookshelves are stocked and technology has given me a reader’s dream of immediate access to any book I want through my Kindle, librivox.org, gutenberg.org, audible.com, and electronic and audible books through my excellent local library system. As the cold wet settles in the furnace shushes heat through the house, and a dog barks somewhere in the neighborhood, I’ll be curled up reading, reading, and learning everything I can for the next day.