For all the passion we, as humans, have in our desire to understand the meaning of life and all that goes on in the universe, I am sorry to say we will never have the ultimate answer. We no more have the capacity to comprehend the answer than a spider has of learning algebra. This is not a new idea. It was expressed most eloquently in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when we were told that the answer to life, the universe, and everything was 42; the problem is, we don’t understand the question. No matter. Even knowing this, will not stop some of us from trying.
Life is something unique to everyone of us. Yes, there are commonalities, but we each see the world through our own eyes and can never know how closely others view it. As for myself, I have come to view the world as a school. To others this might seem like a punishment. They remember school as a place they were forced to attend, then further forced to listen, read, study, memorize, and then to be tested and judged on their success. My school is a different place.
I practice something I’ve termed “Freestyle Learning.” I do not practice Freestyle Learning in order to obtain a piece of paper that will prove my academic prowess, and open doors to economic opportunity. I do it primarily for pleasure. Any further benefits are purely serendipitous.
Freestyle Learning is simply a process of following my curiosity. I’m grateful everyday for living in the information age, a privilege beyond comprehension for the curious, taken for granted by most. I enjoy near instant access to the knowledge, experience, and idea of millions of people from the present to the ancient past.
Every morning I wake up and I rarely know what all I will learn that day. Will I learn a new and unique use of the pen tool in illustrator, which will allow me to create some wonderful image. Will I learn a new word in Spanish (evidente)? Will I learn that “homo” in homo sapien, is a genus, which means human and “sapien” is a species which means wise; that at one time there were at least 6 species of humans living on this planet concurrently? Will I find the 8400 images from the moon landing that were recently released by NASA and are available (and are public domain) on Flickr? The potential is unlimited. UNLIMITED.
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But the truth is that it is not the knowledge itself that gives me pleasure. It is like working on a great puzzle, or playing a challenging game with infinite levels. It is the voyage of discovery. As you gain knowledge it reveals things. You begin to find patterns. You realize that all knowledge is connected (as is all life.) Each day offers up an epiphany (or several.)
To some people “ignorance is bliss”, and at times, I think I might have to agree. When you begin to understand the extent of the destruction we are inflicting on our host planet, or the rampant, and rapacious version of “win-at-all-cost” corporate capitalism that has overtaken our modern society, and threatens us with the Sixth Extinction, you may wish you could “un-know” some things.
As for me, I believe that the solution to most problems is through learning and knowledge. I believe that the poor choices that people often make, are based, not on nefarious or malign intentions, but because they simply don’t know better. They lack knowledge and experience.
Certainly there are those with mental illnesses, who cannot be helped simply by imparting them with knowledge, but these are the minority. The vast majority of those locked in prisons today would be free, and constructively contributing to society, simply by a having the knowledge and experience that we lead them to making better choices.
That said, I recommend you have two things on your “To Do” list today.
- Learn something new.
- Have fun.