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A Century of Curiosity

My sisters and I both took many years of piano lessons. I learned recently that one of my sister’s piano teachers had a student a few years ago who began taking lessons at the fine age of 100.

She thought it sounded fun and wanted to learn something new. So she started with the earliest books and practiced the piano diligently before passing away a year later. I doubt that she regretted the effort or considered a year of plinking away at the keyboard wasted time.

Unfortunately, this type of person is not typical. There are plenty of people who lose interest and curiosity long before they hit the century mark.

Today I’m going to start learning French.

What will you do?


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photo credit: kentfield

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • We Fly Spitfires February 20, 2010, 5:59 am

    French?! It’s the Devil’s tongue! Save yourself now! Save yourself before it’s too late and you start eating croissants every morning and saying “eh c’est boff” and shrugging your shoulders in a casual, nonchalant European manner!


  • Michelle McGee February 20, 2010, 8:01 am

    Bonjour, Josh!
    What a great reminder that every day is an opportunity to do something new no matter your age. What will I do? I will start meditating daily for at least 10 minutes. It’s something I’ve always said I was going to do, but have never done. So now that I’ve written this down and committed it to your blogosphere I HAVE to do it! Thanks for giving me a much needed push.

    Au Revoirs,
    Michelle (a very great French name, BTW)

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 3:39 pm

      Meditating, eh? Good luck with all that serenity.

  • Heather February 20, 2010, 8:49 am

    I’m currently trying out German. I am also doing “The Kettlebell Goddess workout”. I taught myself to knit about 10 years ago, but I have yet to knit something with a steek, which needs to be. . .. CUT OPEN! But there’s this pattern in the Winter 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting that requires steeking, and it’s a way awesome sweater! Ain’t learnin’ fun?

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 11:24 am

      Heather, the greatest essay Mark Twain ever wrote is called The Awful German Language. Heed its lessons!

  • Laura Cococcia February 20, 2010, 9:07 am

    I’m off to singing lessons this morning – while I’ve been doing it for awhile, I haven’t been keeping up with it as I’d like. This is at the core of who I am (Josh, very much a part of ‘finding my own voice’) – sometimes I think I’m too old to keep it going, but I’m not. When I book my next gig, I’ll let you know and perhaps you can video conference in for a duet.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 11:22 am

      Deal. I love to sing. What’s your style?

  • ami February 20, 2010, 9:30 am

    I love stories about people eager to learn and grow for their entire lives. I wonder if this woman’s love of learning contributed to her longevity, or if it had a positive effect on her health and happiness.

    Learning languages is a fantastic way to broaden your mind, and nowadays, you can take it multimedia with foreign language podcasts, streaming radio and video, music, magazines and virtual language buddies.

    One of my best decisions recently was to take some fun classes to develop my creative/right brain side (drawing, photography, writing). The question now is, more and higher level of the same or start something new? Both appeal.

  • vikum February 20, 2010, 10:20 am

    Hi Josh,
    I love the French accent 🙂

    It’s pretty interesting how people stay motivated even in their old ages. You can find dozens of people who are not eagerly into anything but just wasting time. Among them, these kind of people must be appreciated. Because not only they learn and grow but also they provide motivation for others around.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 3:39 pm

      Why do you think some people stay motivated and others don’t?

      • vikum February 20, 2010, 11:24 pm

        I think some people are self motivated. Once they are motivated, they are glued to it and they are the highly successful individuals.
        Some people are motivated but for a limited time period you have to recharge them.But finally they also succeed.
        And some are totally negative minded. They are the people who laugh at you, no matter what you say.
        Well I think in this way based on the people I’ve seen and observed and may be i’ve wrong and maybe you have different ideas 🙂
        I’d like to know yours..

        • Josh Hanagarne February 21, 2010, 2:47 pm

          No, I think I agree with all of that. I’m a very self-motivated person, but it wasn’t always like that. I also used to be very negative-minded, but that leads nowhere.

  • Sylvain OBEGI February 20, 2010, 11:13 am

    Heh, that’s cool. I made the same kind of decisions not-that-recently in a previous post, but about learning how to make music. I’m still trying to figure out how to fit that between all my stuff.
    Anyway Josh, if you’d like to talk with a native French speaker, I’ll be happy to help :).

  • Larissa February 20, 2010, 11:35 am

    I am currently working on expanding my sewing skills. 🙂 Sewing clothes is so much harder than sewing bags!

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 11:52 am

      I got it yesterday on Max’s Birthday. It was perfect, thank Ethan for me. I’ll probably be running a poll next week to help him past his writer’s block for the next book.

      • Larissa February 21, 2010, 1:12 am

        No way! That’s so awesome! Also considering the fact that that envelope sat in my car for almost a month, waiting to be sent. 🙂 I will definitely let Ethan know that help is on the way. 😉

  • Michael Stagg | My II Sense February 20, 2010, 1:33 pm

    I have a copywriting book I’ve been meaning to get to…I’m going to start on that today. An inspiring post; you’re right – more of us need to pursue our interests before we are “called home”.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 3:00 pm

      Michael, what’s your interest in copywriting?

      • Michael Stagg | My II Sense February 20, 2010, 3:51 pm

        I want to add another weapon to my blogging arsenal! LOL Seriously, I figure if I cultivate good copywriting skills it can only help my blogging efforts – and help me generate some income too. 🙂

  • Nazima Ali February 20, 2010, 2:16 pm

    I started french lessons in November but dropped the ball in January. Back at it now. I try to incorporate one to two new things to do or learn as part of my goals every year. My other thing for this year will be Westcoast Swing.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 2:59 pm

      Awesome. I want to see you on So You Think You Can Dance next year.

  • Daniel O'Connor February 20, 2010, 2:20 pm

    That is one cool story. It is irrelevant what level of skill she reached, it is the doing that matters. At the age of forty I began the practice of the sword arts Kendo and Iaido. At fifty-two I attained that rank of Nidan (second degree black belt). The process changed my life and opened up entirely new worlds for me.

    What will I do? Teaching via the web is next for me.

    Have fun with the French lessons.

    There are new worlds around the corner for both of us.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 2:59 pm

      Daniel, what will you be teaching on the web?

      • Daniel O'Connor February 20, 2010, 11:29 pm

        “Daniel, what will you be teaching on the web?”

        ‘Tis a fine and fair question me fine and straping young lad.
        And one I ask often of meself.

        In the end we will learn about building. Building a sword-building a house-building a body and maybe if we listen well and truly-building a human being.

  • Michelle @ Following Your Joy February 20, 2010, 2:46 pm

    Hi Josh,

    What a cool story. And therein lies the key: What will we do while we are “living”? Today, not tomorrow.

    I’m excited to say that I’m starting back into my workouts at the gym. And I can be one of the ‘world’s strongest’ with you! (For me, not librarian, though; coach). I feel so good when I’m taking care of–and strengthening–my body. 🙂

    Thanks for this post and for asking the question.

    Au revoir!

  • The Naked Redhead February 20, 2010, 3:32 pm

    I literally thought my life would be over at 30 and that I’d quit doing my hair and transition automatically into mom jeans. I mean, I didn’t think I’d be dead, but I thought I’d slowly waste away, or grow more boring.

    It’s good to know now that being stagnant is a choice, not a mandate.

    I might still wear mom jeans, though. Just ‘cuz…think of the conversations you’d have…

  • Annabel Candy February 20, 2010, 4:04 pm

    French, Spanish, Lao, Pidgin, I love learning languages and totally recommend it as a way to open up a new side of yourself and unleash your creativity. Mais oui, c’est vrai. But yes, it’s all true!

    I’m always learning new stuff. I might be a learning addict actually. Sometimes I think my head might explode with all the info I’m trying to cram in there but I still can’t help wanting to learn more!

    Bon courage mon ami!

  • Kristin February 20, 2010, 5:29 pm

    Apparently, HTML. Bloody hell. The mountains we climb to blog.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 20, 2010, 5:36 pm

      Oh….good luck with that. i hate that stuff:)

  • Joe DeGiorgio February 21, 2010, 8:25 pm

    What an awesome post, in so few words.

    I’m only 46, 47 next week, with still so much to learn and experience.

    Thanks Josh.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 22, 2010, 10:36 am

      Joe, your avatar doesn’t look a day over 20!

  • Kathy February 21, 2010, 10:11 pm

    tu commencera à apprendre le français? heureusement il y a plein de mots qui sont pareils qu’en anglais! happily there are lots of words that are almost exactly the same… w/ just a small touch of accent. While I was living en belle France I discovered that if I didn’t know a word I could just try the english word with a bad accent and it would work about 75% of the time.

    as someone who learned french (i like to think reasonably if not poetically well) I thought I’d help out by teaching you a phrase that you are unlikely to learn in any french textbook.

    “Tu me caisses les couilles!”
    You are breaking my balls.

    It makes me laugh to think back on it. I heard it ALL the time from my handball coach. At literally every practice and every game.

    but do you know the best part of learning french? it is the wonderful fun you can have conversing in franglais.

    bon courage!

  • Eric February 22, 2010, 2:56 pm

    Pay particular attention to the irregular verbs. They can only be learned by rote because they’re, well–irregular.