Can we live in the past?
by Judy Kohlrus and Tom Bolinger, Membership Co-Chairs, Academy of Lifelong Learning (ALL)
Have you ever been told “You can’t live in the past?” As the years go by, sometimes it seems everyone wants us to let go of the history of our lives. Certainly, we live each day as it comes, but do we really have to forget our “yesterdays” in order to live in the present?
In the Academy of Lifelong Learning (ALL), we believe strongly in programs encompassing the past, the present and the future. Twenty-five years ago, the founding members established our group as self-governing so we, the members, decide what we want to learn and make arrangements for our speakers, instructors, destinations and activities. Our ALL “curriculum” primarily consists of one-meeting classes or trips so we can learn about many topics and issues coach year.
We honor the past by offering several programs that relate to someone, some place or some idea from the past or that connects the past to the present. Examples from our group’s recent past include: a trip to a historic home outside of Effingham; a program that focused on bocci ball, a game that has been played for centuries; and a birding program gave credit to Audubon’s famous drawings as well as provided several wonderful photographic images, viewing tips and stories about the latest findings in aviary habitat research.
Many of our Academy members like history, so we have our share of programs that help us learn about what has happened before. For those of us in Illinois that usually includes anything relating to Lincoln and the upcoming bicentennial of statehood will offer several special opportunities. Family history is of interest to many of our members. And it’s always fun to learn how something developed. On Thurs., Aug. 10, the Annual Kickoff of a new ALL year, will feature oral interpreters who show us “living” history as they share the various origin stories of the ice cream sundae, so we can debate which U.S. city first offered this dessert. And we’ll offer do-it-yourself sundaes to enjoy as well as live entertainment by musician Chris Vallillo. This event is open to the public, but please call to tell us you’re coming!
As the aging process brings us to the years beyond age 50, we must continue to embrace change because it continues every day. Our bodies are shifting. Technology programs are a special offering for us now because we need to use it in many applications. It’s important for us to be alert to those changes so that we can have the most pleasant present and positive future. It’s important to maintain social interaction and ALL acknowledges the benefits to sharing time and building friendships.
ALL has one program called “Today’s Topic.” The name explains the focus. Last year, one of the programs offered in Today’s Topic was about changes in automobiles that we could expect by 2020. In July, we will learn more about the various housing options available to us as retirees with pros and cons shared on each option. In August there will be a significant solar eclipse and the Today’s Topic program will feature an explanation of what we might see and why it happens.
Another program that keeps us current with our communities is called Around Town. A visit to a local destination introduces us to many of the special businesses, attractions, government units and non-profits. Ahead this fall are trips to the Pepsi Bottling Co. and a tour of the FBI facility in Springfield.
At the Academy of Lifelong Learning, we simultaneously offer physical activities that build vitality. Bowling, biking and golf provide good stretching movements. If you have been a longtime golfer, maybe you share some tips with someone who is just learning the way around the greens. Sharing your stories is an important part of learning too.
Particularly after retirement, we seniors “want to do what we want to do,” you know, and some of us have a “bucket list” ready to go the moment we no longer have work schedules. The past stays with us through memories as our lives continue. Nostalgia and fond memories of our youth, the growth we had as adults, hoods, working through the ups and downs of life while striving and surviving — we have come to understand that change is inevitable.
We don’t know what the future holds, but the only way we will get there is to embrace life today while remembering the lessons we have learned from the past. Perhaps because the greatest contentment comes from a focus on living life in the present and embracing change. That helps us look forward to each day as we successfully age.
We welcome you to attend one of our programs as a guest to sample an ALL activity and bring along a friend too. Find out more by calling the office for ALL at Lincoln Land Community College, 217-786-2477.