Remember Something New Everyday: Lessons from Life’s Classroom

I’ve been exercising pretty consistently since the beginning of the year. Thanks to a motivating and supportive partner who helps me follow through with a commitment that we both made to get up and move, I’ve been able to make time for exercise between 4-7 days a week (leaving room for when life happens), mixing it up by incorporating cardiovascular exercise with strength training.

Although I’m trying to find ways to continue to push myself, I have to admit that I’d settled into a certain routine, so I sought out the help of a trainer.

During the first part of the (thankfully free) consultation I explained what some of my interests were, what I’ve done in the past, and what kinds of things I was looking forward to accomplishing in the future. The latter part of the consultation involved me going through a variety of exercises under the supervision of the trainer so he could watch my form, assess strength and comfort levels, etc.

And then came the assessment….

After watching me perform several upper and lower body exercises, the trainer came to a conclusion.  Although I work pretty well when it comes to training my larger muscle groups, it turns out that I’ve been neglecting the smaller ones. Strengthening those will help to increase my overall fitness, and I need to do some real work in order to make sure I reach that goal.

Although I thought I had things pretty figured out in this area, it appears that I have so much more to learn. I have to challenge  what I thought I knew, and seek out and receive more help and new information in order to grow.

And it struck me.

Not immediately, but after thinking about this on the drive back home, I realized that my experience at the gym reminded me of my journey through life as an aspiring humanitarian because this road is an ongoing process of learning and development.

It is an ongoing process of learning and unlearning; of challenging misinformation and seeking out new information to get a clearer and more inclusive version of the “truth”.

We won’t know that some things we think we know might not be entirely true unless we have experiences which might contradict that information. At those times (because there are/will be several) each of us has to decide what we’ll do with what we’ve learned and/or experienced.

In terms of my exercise, I thought I was doing pretty well, but upon hearing about where I needed to increase my focus, I can choose to either accept and incorporate the new advice into my life, or stick with my previous routine and go on as if I have it all figured out.

I  have also experienced and continue to experience people and things that challenge what I think I know on my journey to become more humane to those around me. Whether it be through discovering unearned privileges I possess, contradicting a prejudice or stereotype, or generally just doing something new, I am on a constant path of choosing (or not choosing which is also a decision) what to do when I reach those crossroads.

People are at the root of all of this growth. We need each other to learn from each other, and to learn more about ourselves. How can we do that? Through experience and communication.

One challenge I’m setting for myself is to strive to remain aware of which routine I’m sticking to when faced with new information that could expand my worldview.

We are all works in progress, but that night at the gym reminded me of how life can help us remember something new everyday, in case we forget.

Grace & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW




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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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4 Responses

  1. Indeed! Good piece and great opportunity to share your self-reflection, one that has meaning, and is applicable to us all. Keep striving to be that work in progress, learning from yesterday so that you can live in today is the best way!

  2. tamaragsuttle says:

    Relando! I feel like you are calling me out! . . . Thank you . . . for reminding me that, no different than my clients, that I, too, get comfortable with my stances – political, social, physical, relational and otherwise. And, of course, that self-reflection that I am always asking and nudging others to engage in is also available to me. It’s telling, isn’t it, . . . the places we find ourselves cluelessly avoiding?

    Relando, I don’t stop in here nearly often enough to tell you how much I appreciate your nudges and call outs to create the world we are meant to live in. Thank you.

    I have nominated you for The Beautiful Blog Award as a token of my appreciation and as a way to introduce my readers and others to your work. It is necessary. It is valued. And, it is the only way that we move our world forward.

    Blessings to you on your journey.

  3. tamaragsuttle says:

    Ooops, sorry. Meant to say that I nominated you here

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