I’ve always been enchanted by the vastness of Jeopardy contestants’ knowledge. How can such seemingly normal people know so much about so many different things?
Around when I started going to college, I began to realize that such knowledge simply takes a long time to acquire. This did and still does frustrate my young mind. Perhaps it is a need for instant gratification that frustrates me most, but oddly enough this dissatisfaction has had positive influences on my behavior. My frustration with not knowing has created in me an obsession for knowing, or rather, a thirst for knowledge.
The contestants I watched win thousands of dollars just because they knew stuff made a lasting impression on my young mind. There they were–school teachers, engineers, physicians, folks working normal jobs like everyone else I knew. I began to wonder, “if they can know all these things, why can’t I?”
But where is one to begin? With this never-ending mountain of knowledge before me, it seems almost trivial to try to become a master at anything at all.
I still struggle with this seeming impasse, but I have found that one thing always makes me believe that I am making progress and growing my knowledge of the world–reading.
Reading a book is like walking a few miles of an endless hike–each page you read, you take a real, concrete step on your journey of learning.
When you look at all the miles that are left to traverse, you can get overwhelmed at the grandeur of it all. But rather, I invite you to look at your feet and attempt to really know how each step feels. By focusing on the smaller steps (each page turned, each book read), the grander picture fades, and you can focus on the slow and tedious work of the journey. Many months and years of this work will have tangible results–many miles walked, much knowledge acquired.
I feel that this year I have rediscovered a love of reading that I had as a child and young adolescent. I have found that as my list of “books read” grows, I can feel my mind expanding to include the experiences and lessons learned by others, a concept which is perfectly summed up by this quote–
“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.” Socrates
And so, I hope that perhaps you will take a few steps on your journey today and flip through the book that has been sitting on your nightstand waiting for you to open it. As for me, I’ll be busy preparing for my Jeopardy debut…