Friday, June 03, 2011

Learning while Driving – Not Procrastinating

I have a secret: I listen to The Modern Scholar audiobooks. You can check them out from many local libraries. Most of their subjects are on CD media (older selections may be cassette tape-based; I kid you not) now, so if you have a CD player in your car, you can learn while you drive. That’s what I have been doing, and it is a bit relaxing. These audio books are really just recorded lectures, more or less. And it is a way to learn something you may not normally learn in the course of your day.

One of the books (lectures?) I heard recently was called A History of Ancient Sparta. I thought the ancient Spartans were interesting. I mean, in school, they said that the men would go and fight the wars, and the women stayed home, raising kids and making all governing decisions. Sounds good to me. Well, this lecture series really smashes my 7th grade image of this culture.

I learned lots about the culture – I still have a lecture to go, which translates to three trips to the grocery, and a longer trip up the interstate, I suppose.

One of the things I was thinking about today dealt with how its citizens worked out. The Spartans were very opposed to being fat – its citizens worked out year-round, the men basically needing to be fit to fight. There is some evidence that some workouts were nude. Adolescent girls worked out nude, and they were encouraged to make fun of overweight adolescent boys. It seems to have motivated the boys to get fitter, the whole point of the public jibes.

In middle school, I enjoyed physical education in school, but I was quick to avoid any after-school sports. I did not want the jock designation – hey, I was a kid, and that seemed important at the time. Anyway, if I lived in ancient Sparta, it would have been fun to work out and poke fun at the boys.

More than anything, it reminds me even in ancient times (about 500 BCE), the Spartans had people who procrastinated. I really think this “putting things off” really limits our happiness. Or our productivity. Or both.

Someone I used to read (Carrie Ryan, a NY Times bestselling author, even uses a derivation of the word ‘procrastination’ in the title of her blog.

I am not sure I will start writing a blog again, but I am starting to write.

10 comments:

Michael said...

It is amazing how committed the Spartans were as a whole civilization. That has to be interesting to learn, and then to turn around into words for either yourself or others is even better. I will admit, when I was young, if girls were making fun of me I would have done more to get in shape. Heck I still think it would work lol.
Plus the Greek's view of nudity wasn't quite as conservative as ours is...

Knot said...

I wouldn't mind watching naked women work out.

The History Channel has a good little blurb on the battle of the 300 that goes into a brief history of Sparta. They were brutal. Funny enough, this is also the same Persian Emporere (Xerxes) that had just captured the Israelites mentioned in the book of Esther.)

I have a friend who downloads lectures to his phone/mp3 player from iTunes U. They have some pretty good stuff. I've listened to a few myself. Most universities are putting their lectures online for consumption.

Leesa said...

michael: one thing the Spartans did not do is write. The amount of their surviving writing could be devoured in a few days.

knot: the Spartans were driven. The Spartan woman did not do housework. They did not even discipline their own kids, most of the time. That was handled by their servants. The women ran the household, and the men either trained for fighting or were leaders or did whatever it was to further their culture.

Zephyr said...

Public jibes seem incredibly cruel to me. I have to wonder if there were no overweight adolescent girls, and what happened to them.

Leesa said...

zephyr: From what I learned, if your feelings were hurt, you could tell people to stop, but that may have been worse than the jibing. Remember, the Spartans were warring all of the time, they had slaves, and fitness was VERY IMPORTANT to them. I don't think we can judge that culture with our own experiences.

Xmichra said...

I'm fairly sure if you lined up a bunch of boff Spartans I would definately excersize more... even if just to oggle. I'm thinking that would make for very compelling scenery. Just sayin'.

Xmichra said...

...and I'm glad you are writting again( I hit tab/enter to fast!)even if it's not on here primarily or constantly. I find that when I don't write at all in some format I start feel my brain eat away at itself, and soon I am a mess staring in the mirror saying WHO ARE YOU?! It's pretty freaky.

Leesa said...

Xmichra: I have often said that if we were required to run around nude, obesity would be a thing of the past.

Knot said...

Sunday night at 9pm eastern they are showing Last Stand of the 300 on History International which is the documentary I was referring to.

Leesa said...

knot: I don't have cable television. But thanks for the information.