I am blessed, I get good grades without trying very hard. School was never difficult for me. But school is not the only form of education that counts. It is the foundation of skills one needs to go to university (which I’ve done, multiple times), it is the basics one needs so that they can read and write and count and push themselves. It’s essential and it’s undeniably criminal that so many women in the world are not afforded this right. The right to learn.
Basic education is a human right. There is no doubt about that. It’s very important to me that I am able to give my daughter the best education that I can, in the situation we are in. And that goes so much further than just school and university. It’s about the choices I make that shape our lives. It’s about the higher education I can offer her now, as a toddler, and then as a child and a teenager and one day as an adult. The higher education that has nothing to do with BA’s or MA’s or PHD’s (though I have already worked my own way through two of those already). But there is a much higher education that I want to provide to my daughter, an education that brings with it compassion and mindfulness and generosity. An education that encourages respect and self realisation, an education that brings with it power and love and sometimes pain... the education that comes from experience. The education that comes from never being afraid to live a great and adventurous life.
You will always learn more from doing than you ever will from standing still.
You can learn every word in a book by heart but if you have never seen real love or had your heart broken or stood in a field in a foreign country or ridden a motorbike or laughed at the wind or held the hand of someone who is dying or challenged your own beliefs. Have you truly lived?
It’s a question I ask myself every day. I ask myself and then I throw myself into the wind and I try something new. I put my hear t on the line and it gets broken. I trust and I get betrayed. I love and I get loved. I play and I laugh. I win and I lose and I lose and I get back up and I go again. And again. Because I’m alive. Because I’m fighting for something more than “just this,” because that’s what I want for me. And it’s what I want for my child. And it’s what I want for the world.
And it’s a question that is, unfortunately, only for the privileged. Because the large percentage of the population of the world does not have the privilege of asking ‘have i truly lived’ because they are still asking ‘how will I continue living?’
I think one of the most uneducated and insulting things we as human beings can do is to take our privilege for granted. To get hung up on grades and salaries and career s without a second thought to those people who have none of what we have. While we sit around and moan about our thighs and our hair and our skin and we spend money on things that are inconsequential and we worry about things that don’t matter, there are people out there who are happy with nothing. I’ve seen them. I’ve lived along side them in little villages on the edge of the earth. I’ve worked with them to harvest rice fields and to build houses and to grow food and to eat food. I’ve sat with them in mud huts and laughed with these people, the less privileged as they tell jokes in languages I don’t understand and hold my hand and hug me when I leave. I watch as they love their children and they work for food not for power or greed or recognition or fame.
The best education I have ever had in my life has not come from all of the essays I have written or the academics I have listened to or the presentations I have given. It hasn’t come from the late nights forming convincing arguments or referencing correctly or stressing over deadlines. It hasn’t come from journals or text books or lectures. I have learned a lot from all of this, sure, but it has never and will never be the best education I will receive.
The best education I have ever had in my life has come from people. From people all around the world. I’ve learned absolute joy from strangers and compassion from children. I’ve learned to appreciate my life and my privilege by living side by side in life with those who come from a different world. I’ve learned acceptance from those who have been ostracized and I’ve learned true strength from those who are considered weak. I’ve learned love from having my heart broken.
The more you learn the more you realise you know nothing. The more you travel the more you realise you haven’t seen anything at all. The m ore you experience the less you care about material possessions and the more you care about people.
Because let’s face it. At the end of the day... people are the only thing that matter. The rest? It’s just broken discarded plastic.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Please Note: Images and words are Sash's unless otherwise indicated