During my high school years, I spent a lot of lunch hours in the library; reading, writing, avoiding the social hierarchies of the student body. Overwhelmed with all the knowledge that surrounded me. Silent, subtle strength. Underrated and underestimated. The library was a metaphor for life.
One of the first books I picked up was one that had never been signed out; “A Passion for Wisdom.” unbeknownst to me at the time, this ‘passion for wisdom’ was the humble beginnings of a journey I would resume years later. In fact, it wasn’t until searching for an image of the book for this blog that I realised that the subtext of the book read, ‘a very brief history in philosophy’… so much is to be said for synchronicity.
- The words in the title appealed to me; Passion & Knowledge. My parents had engrained in me the importance of getting as much education as I could (before getting married) and the ever-pervasive notion that ‘knowledge is power’ — cultural relativism reveals the importance of me, as a female to acquire knowledge and power before getting married as much of that would be “lost” post marriage. But that’s another post…
Passion, Knowledge. Power. The three easily became my holy trinity. The inspiration, the information, the implementation. I had a unabaited, insatiable hunger for knowledge, I wanted to know more, always, and about everything. it sounds like a wonderful thing, but it lacks focus and really isn’t practical. The saying, “Jack of all trades, Master of none” comes to mind; I knew a little bit about a lot and a lot about nothing— some of what I knew didn’t even serve me, so it was useless information. I had no filter for information coming in and a more than most ‘full cup’– this was just a few years ago.
I began to realize the need to determine what information would be more useful to store, and what information would be beneficial to dump. In following, which information would be useful to pursue and which information just isn’t worth the energy or mental real estate. Fast forward those years to a few weekends ago, hell-bent on finding answers pertaining to something I was incredibly invested in, passion is dangerous, uninhibited, it flirts with obsession and teases insanity. Sometimes we get so caught up in the process, we get attached, lose focus, lose perspective and let ourselves be affected. The desire to know overshadows what it is we need to know. The why’s, hows, when’s, who’s, what’s and where’s.
As a philosopher, this is my biggest challenge, “the wisdom to know the difference” …
I was gifted a nugget of knowledge on this which I forward on to you; if you took a knife to the neck of the person who had all the answers, what would you achieve? Would the answer change? Would knowing the why, how, when, who, what, and where change the situation? Could not the individual lie, tell you what you want to hear, out of fear or a desire to get rid of me? Or conversely, what happens when the answer is not something you want to hear? Do you press on? Pushing and asking different questions to obtain the solace you seek? Why give someone that kind of power?
It’s understandable to probe a little, after all, follow-up is important and explanations can help our understanding, but when it is not available to us, do we push forward, pin someone up against a wall with a knife to their neck coercing an explanation, asking “why?” or “why not?”
As this knowledge-giver said, “sometimes there isn’t an answer” and we have to learn to let it go. It’s not easy, I find myself (mentally) pinning people to walls, trying to get to the bottom of ‘it’, hungry for knowledge, knowledge that maybe I don’t even need, knowledge that will not serve me. expending time and energy I could be otherwise using in a more productive manner. It’s a work in progress…
Philosophy is great, the pursuit of knowledge it entails is great too, but we live in a practical world. Our thoughts, however intellectualized and comprehensive they are, won’t actually get us anywhere — ONLY our actions will. It is tenacity in our implementation, not information that will help us achieve our goals.
Ask once. If it’s really important, ask twice, then let it go and move on… don’t waste your time, we have such little of it.