I Can Do That


“Learning never exhausts the mind.”

– Leonardo da Vinci –

My grandpa never wanted me to forget it.

“Learn everything you can,” he told me. “That way when someone needs a job done, you can say, ‘I can do that.’ ” That same entrepreneurial spirit is what drove him to get me in his driveway rotating tires, driving his vehicles, and learning to repair things at a young age.

I’ve never forgotten.

I’ve tried a lot of things, done well at a few, gotten by with many others. I may not be master of many trades, but I have dabbled, and I have learned.

Recently, though, I was thinking about my tendency to escape life instead of pursue it. I like to curl up with a mug of tea and a book and get away into adventurous lands.

It is not purely escapism, but if I take it too far, it can be.

While picking blackberries a few days ago, I realized how easy it is to withdraw so much into our “fake worlds” — social media, books, television — that we almost stop living in reality. Our interaction with the real world narrows into a thin strip of time reserved for eating, sleeping, and the occasional conversation.

I do not want to live like that.

Of course, I adore reading. Social media, and yes, even television, have their places.

But are we really living? Are our virtual or imaginary worlds stealing energy and joy from the real one?

I have so many aspirations that books have awakened.

While lost in the pages of a beloved book, I swell with the longing to be like the dear heroine of the story, to share her joy and zest for life. I grow hot with anger at the oppression of children caught in slave trafficking. Adventure beckons me, and —at least in my secret world — I follow.

But what happens when I put the book away?

Getting caught up in a well-written book is not a bad thing. But how am I bettered if I do not act on what I have learned?

All too often, I am like that. In my deepest places, I want to be like that book character. But when I step out of my room and start cooking dinner and engage with real conversation with real people, I find that my world is much more real, vivid, and difficult than the book. Intentions are challenged with real trials, not make-believe ones. 

It takes real action to turn book learning into reality.

While thinking about all this, I haven’t decided to read less. But I have decided to do more.

As beautiful as words are, life is more potent. As nice as it is to read about the wind swimming through a grassy meadow, it is better to see it, to feel the wind in your own face.

Why do we content ourselves with only living someone else’s experience, to the point of avoiding having our own experiences?

So this is for you and me, all my dear bookworms. Relish your books, enjoy the chance to join in on some of the glories of history and travel that you may not have the chance to see in person. Learn from the characters. Aspire to great things.

But when you and I close our books, let’s set them aside with joy, because we get to go live our own adventure.

It is messier and lovelier, brimming with more joy and pain, harder and worth more than any book.

How about we go out and live it? Be ready, every day, to learn, so that you will be able to say it too.

“Sure, I can do that.”

You’ll be able to step up and serve, because you’ve actually lived, right here, in the life God has set before you.

What could be better?

“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”

– 1 Samuel 12:24, ESV –


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