What have David and I been discussing this morning? The ‘transit of Venus’ of course (link below). Doesn’t everyone? Perhaps you can see why David falls asleep in his easy chair. Just kidding. David is the best, he listens to me going on and on about this and that.
I am reading After Tamerlane, The Global History of Empire since 1405, by John Darwin a history professor in England. This morning, as I do most mornings, I read passages to David. Today’s reading involved Captain Cook’s voyages to the Pacific Ocean, a vast unknown until the eighteenth century. As David is fascinated with all things heavenly, this led him to ask questions.
Cover via Amazon
Cook made his first voyage to the Pacific in 1769 to witness the ‘transit of venus’ from Tahiti. Today, the place where he watched the transit is know as Point Venus. After he witnessed the transit, Cook sailed from Tahiti to Australia, where he mapped the coastline and claimed much of the island for Britain.
Today, many criticize this action as European overreach. However, the world and its history are much more complex than the vast numbers of people on this planet realize. The thinking person must refrain from ill-informed judgements of past times.The movies and historical fiction are notorious for getting facts wrong. (Even PBS screws up history some of the time!)
Notice I wrote ill-informed.
This week I had a discussion about Galileo, telescopes and cathedrals with Sally the retired Latin teacher who knows much after having a lifetime interest in Roman Catholic Church history. And, I had another discussion about the Jesuit missionary to China, Francis Xavier, with Kathy my artist neighbor and friend of Brother D the Benedictine. Both women are fairly well educated, but unless one reads current history he or she is probably misinformed. Both women are seniors who love history.
You don’t have to read history of course, as one commentator wrote, we are ‘out of school.’ But are we? Isn’t simply living a form of education?
For me, living is learning. I believe one never outgrows a need to learn, discover new things, and remain engaged with the world…especially if it affects your view and the way you interact with others.
Some people retire from a job and travel like crazy. I did my traveling when I was younger, thank goodness. My creaky bones couldn’t take some of the traveling I did years ago. Today I am mostly an arm-chair traveler. The graduate degree in history I earned after retiring educated me so that I can read selectively (good history). Good history (well written and researched) transports me to the past, a foreign place where historical discoveries occur almost every day. I will have adventures for years to come.
Learning is fun. This morning, I taught David, who is almost 84 but still curious about ‘outer space,’ how to use Google to find the article one of my classmates (and a friend) wrote for Wikipedia on the ‘transit of Venus’ (link below). He found, he read it, he liked it, proving once again old dogs can learn new things.