Internet shorthand for “Today I Learned.” I typed it the other day, sharing something nifty that had come across my social media feed that I didn’t know before.

Then it hit me. I’m not unique in actively learning new things, but many folks out there don’t seem to ever learn anything. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ refers to those people at “The Stodgies” in a somewhat derisive manner.

For most folks, they seemed to peak in their early teens. Locked in. We’ve talked previously about how the world gets fixed from the time you turn thirteen until you hit about twenty-four. From there, you listen to the same music. Eat the same general food. Wear the same clothes.

I try to expand my musical horizons by buying random CDs at Half Priced Books whenever I’m in town, just to find new stuff. Hit and miss, but that’s the whole point. Someone else liked something enough to pay for it. Then most of them converted to digital.

Today I Learned. Something new. Always something new.

I am a writer. I am also a table-top gamer. I GM a couple of groups of new players (I call them all kids, regardless of age, until they get more comfortable). These campaigns are lower power. Like way lower. Too complicated already, so I don’t need to add a lot of magic items to further complicate things.

At the same time, I like to think about what might make interesting items to throw in a future campaign. Or to ask a future GM for, for me. Things heavy on roleplay potential, rather than pure powergaming minmaxing. That sort of silliness.

So I try to learn things. Think new thoughts. Go new places mentally.

And every once in a while I have to stop and realize that most people don’t do this. Don’t get up each morning looking for the uphill slope. Instead, they are downhill, with all the negative connotations such a word implies.

Music. The CD in the car right now came out in 2002 originally. Willie Nelson, Across the Great Divide. Really amazing stuff. I was thirty-three when it came out, not thirteen. Sure, I will listen to stuff from the early-mid 80s, when I was the target demographic in the early MTV days, but I try not to be limited.

For me, I am forever evolving. Rock from the early 80s, getting harder as the decade progressed, but not down into metal all that much. Poodles never really did it for me.

The 90s saw me transition over to country music about the time Garth Brooks rearranged popular tastes. Stayed with that until it ended up tossing western out and just becoming soft-rock remakes, with former rockers hitting mid-life crisis and releasing country albums for nostalgia.

2009, for my 40th, I went to London and England. Six days in London proper, then rented a car and went upcountry to a place called Boston on the North Sea. Where my Ward side of the family is originally from. (Mom’s side was from SW Germany after Napoleon got his ass kicked the second time. They came over in about 1815-16.)

The car was a right-hand-drive Ford. Stick. Traffic circles. Six days, I put 1400 miles on the car. The ONLY radio station I could get reliably was BBC Radio One, so I listened to British Dance Pop for a week.

I like to joke that the guy who went over never came back. It is more true than not, because I changed my musical tastes entirely in the process of reinventing myself yet again.

It’s June and I did it again. Shaved the beard off a month ago and haven’t grown it back. Hair got buzzed in the winter with the beard trimmer, but getting shaggy now. Threatened my guy friends yesterday that I might just let it grow long again. Take about two years to get to my shoulder blades. They are all going bald in various manners. And have it buzzed, shaved, or mohawked, respectively. They were not amused.

Forever changing. Forever learning. Forever something.

I am not planning to grow old anytime soon. Hell, I refuse to even grow up, at the end of the day.

Instead, I look for nifty new things that can teach me something I didn’t know before.

So I can say Today I Learned.

What are you doing with your summer?