Tim Hering holding a trumpetHello. My name is Tim and I’m a 50-something undergraduate student at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA majoring in English with a Writing Concentration and Music. I’m technically a Junior this year due to the number of credits I transferred from my first attempt at college many years ago. I consider myself a Sophomore since it is my second year here and it appears that it will take two more years after this to complete both degrees.

I began this chapter of my journey in Lifelong Learning as a Music Education major, as I had 30 or so years ago when I went to Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. I changed my major several times at Otterbein after learning that K-12 was not my cup of tea, so to speak, going into Journalism then to a BA in Music. Fast forward 30 years and some things have not changed.

The creation of this blog is a product of a class, but it is a topic that has become important to me. Lifelong Learning starts at birth and goes until we die. We typically think that traditional students go K-12 than to college. Some will go beyond to receive advanced degrees but for the most part, expectations of learning seem to be fulfilled after college.

There is more to explore. Perhaps, like me, it is time for a change in direction and completion of goals long thought passed. Maybe it’s a new dream that won’t fade away or perhaps you want to travel and wish to learn the native language of the country you want to visit. You may want to learn to dance, play an instrument or paint a picture. The opportunities for Lifelong Learning are out there for nearly everything you may wish to learn. The only thing standing in the way is knowing who, what, where, when, why and how and the aim of this blog is to help find those answers.

A Little Bit More About Me

Music and creativity have always been a staple in my life. As a young boy, I would listen to my parent’s collection of records (yes, the vinyl ones before they were retro.) Among these recordings were the Canadian Brass, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and The Philadelphia Brass. I somehow always imagined myself up there playing Amazing Grace ala Ronn Romm or A Taste of Honey with the Tijuana Brass. My favorites were the timeless classic sound of the Philadelphia Brass playing Christmas Carols. This recording can still be heard every holiday season in shopping centers around the country. When the time came, it was only natural for me to choose the trumpet as my instrument in the school band.

Throughout the rest of my middle and high school years, I played in everything I could and played for as many people as I could. I also sang in the various school choirs and acted in the drama club so when it was time to graduate and go off to college. The road was all mapped out. But, and you knew it was coming, when you are eighteen preparing to graduate high school and begin college you seem to have everything planned out. You know exactly where you are, where you want to be and how you are going to get there. You passed all of your entrance exams; you know where you will be next year, in three, five and even ten years from now. But, sometimes, what you believe is the path you must take isn’t the one on which you were meant to be. At least, not yet. At first it may seem like there are just a few bumps in the road. Nothing you can’t handle, until suddenly you swerve to avoid one of those bumps. Your car slides off the road and you careen entirely off course. “Recalculating,” the voice repeatedly says from your once trustworthy GPS.

It’s now about three decades since the first of many of those scenarios in my life. A scholarship each for trumpet and theater at a good school and the perfect route plotted out. It turns out there were more than a few bumps and quite a bit of construction on that route. “You end up exactly where you are meant to be.” Life is a seemingly endless string of cliches but I do firmly believe that one. While I cannot say I enjoyed every minute of the scenery of the multiple detours, I would not be the person I am today without them. The people I have met, the relationships I have made and the experiences I have had would likely never have happened. I thought at that time that being unable to play my trumpet due to dental issues was the end of everything. Financial and family problems also seemed to redirect me. I pushed music out of my life for quite some time while I learned to deal with that. Over time, even as the scenery changed and I adapted to it, I learned that music had never really left. It just took different forms. My creativity still drives me forward as I take on new challenges. From restaurant management to becoming a personal chef to designing the branding on a line of body care products, my road is nothing like it had been planned.

It has been quite an adventure, however, and I have learned to add new destinations to the existing route. What I had thought was a direct route many years ago is no longer in the rear view mirror but is the new destination as I have reconnected to that road from long ago. The voice saying “Recalculating,” no longer speaks over top of everything else. What I believed had been insurmountable dental issues have been resolved and while there may be a few more gray hairs on my head, I am grateful for the experiences I have had. I am as hopeful and excited I was just out of high school and looking forward to new experiences and chances to learn and share on this new road.