Please do not die young!

Turki Aldakhil
Turki Aldakhil
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In old times, a young man would bid his parents farewell after they had saved enough money and supplies to get him to his destination, embrace him and say goodbye to him as they may never see him again.

Seeking education was difficult, tiresome and far. It required money, supplies and energy but before all that, it required a patient mother and a father who know well that good education is always far, tiring and expensive. But, like a beautiful woman, it is worth all the trouble that men with good taste go through!

Also back then, people were the ones who sought education, and not the other way around. However, this has no longer been the case until a few decades ago. There are now different types of schools and universities that have all sorts of majors. Your language teacher may be a click away on your laptop or even on your smartphone. You can even obtain a oud (similar to a guitar) and follow the musical notes on your smartphone.

Open your eyes well and you will see something new. Open your eyes well when you watch television and you will see an idea that you’ve seen before but without noticing its hidden message. You will smile alone. This new smile is the sign that you learnt something new even if you do not tell anyone about it my dear reader

Turki Aldakhil

This article is not paid for by smart devices companies but it has a tone that opposes the ‘end of study’ syndrome!

Studying and learning

It’s true that there’s a difference between studying and learning, but the distance between the two definitions have remained an objective and urgent question before defining the above-mentioned syndrome: Is it really possible to stop learning and studying? When? Where? And how?

Back to the end of study syndrome, which is that feeling that we all experienced – feeling tired and exhausted of the plenty of assignments or of the nearing exams and the mental fatigue that extends to the entire body and you feel like you don’t have the desire to do anything as you make the huge wish and ask: When will studying come to an end? I am no doctor but everyone has experienced this.

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High school students, for instance, think going to university is their lifeline but they are taken by surprise when the syndrome emerges again during their last semester when they begin to lose hope whenever someone mentions the lack of jobs or low wages.

The victim of the end of study syndrome then gets married after the systemized and university education marathon ends only to find himself/herself back in the seat of education as they try to understand the opposite sex. It’s a new type of learning!

The first child then arrives, and a new phase of joyful mental and physical fatigue that resembles the end of study syndrome begins. The parents reluctantly learn how to deal with their infant and then how to deal with him as a boy, a teenager and a young man later. As days pass by, this boredom feeling repeats and life goes on so when will this tired exhausted individual stop learning?

We all know the definition of the old man: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” Take it from me.

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Therefore, learning is not a purely voluntary and continuous process, but one can say that real aging is what one suffers from when he stops learning anything new and discovering skills. This is even if said individual is a muscular young man in his 20’s, as he’d be an old man who suffers from negative aging because he surrendered to the idea of no longer learning.

Allow me to note that some of our proverbs have been frustrating when they believe that seeking knowledge at an old age is like engraving in water. It’s as if they are preventing you from knowledge, discovering and learning new things for the mere fact that you are old of age!

Learning despite old age

Not a day should pass by without exercising your memory, without recalling a verse of poetry or sharing a new song with a friend or a loved one. Open your eyes well and you will see something new. Open your eyes well when you watch television and you will see an idea that you’ve seen before but without noticing its hidden message. You will smile alone. This new smile is the sign that you learnt something new even if you do not tell anyone about it my dear reader.

I am grateful to a dear friend and poet I have hosted on the talk show Edaat as he narrated how he found a poetry bahr (metrical series) difficult, so he swore to never learn it. When he tried to understand it and write poetry according to it, he couldn’t. He said it was like seeing waves before him and he couldn’t master the bahr which he willingly rejected to learn. I smiled and said: “Poetry, like everything else, has premonition and dignity that prevent them from relenting before those unwilling to understand it.”

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A university student and a young man who is worried about the massive amount of information before high school examinations can enjoy the curricula’s small details. There’s no doubt that part of this is the responsibility of the teacher and parent.

However, this art of enjoying every moment and of maintaining the sentiment of childish amazement when we learn something new for years is what makes a 50-year-old man wake up at 5:00 a.m. to go run for two hours and go early to work before other younger men in their 20s and 30s. How many 60-year-olds have exhausted young men who are not one even a third of their age?!

Women advise their daughters who are about to get married: “A man’s worst disease begins when they retire, my child. They master disgruntling when they stop learning your new characteristics. Be new so he maintains his agility. Beware of early retirement. Life begins to slow down when a man sits on a couch in the middle of the house and begins to observe the world from behind screens or through newspapers.”

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Get out of the house, my friend, and do not let the grey hairs on your head to prevent you from breaking the stereotype that it’s difficult to learn and discover when you’re old. Paddle and learn how to dive!

As for you, the young, enjoy the nectar of life. Do not look at life’s stages like an old horse looks at the distant barrier. Invade new opportunities, surprise yourselves and those around you and keep in mind the never-dying saying by Al-Mutanabbi: I have not seen among the defects of people anything worse than a shortage in the willingness of the able to do something.

Full capacity is optimizing everything, and this can only be achieved by enjoying everything well, even traffic lights!

This article is also available in Arabic.


Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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