I graduated from high school eight years ago, and I graduated from college four years ago. It seemed like a given that that is how life should be. After college, you go on with your life. Get a job, become more independent, and stop actively learning new things.
That never settled well with me. I’m the type of person who has an insatiable lust for learning. From when I was eight years old and became fascinated with medieval castles and dinosaurs, I’ve wanted to learn everything about everything. And, the older I’ve gotten, I have realized that is an impossibility. There will always be things I don’t know and the more I learn the more I realize how little I actually know.
Many great authors and philosophies have come to the same conclusion. But what is the solution?
Well, there are two solutions. First, you can give up. Why continue learning anything if you know you’ll never know everything. Second, you can continue to open your mind to new concepts and ideas. Yes, you’ll never know everything, but each piece of data you store inside your brain will be something you wouldn’t know if you didn’t continue learning.
When I was in college, I learned two things. First, most colleges suck. It’s true. I wrote a whole article on how stupid it was to get a creative writing degree. Sure, if you want to be a doctor or engineer, it’s important to go through actual schooling, but if you’re interested in English or history or any type of social expertise, odds are you won’t learn that much in most colleges.
Second, because most teachers have similar tastes, you end up learning the same thing from each teacher. I’ve learned just how diverse ideas are since leaving college. I’ve read some of the great philosophers (Lao Tzu, Plato, Francis Bacon, Thomas Aquinas). In doing so, I’ve realized how most college professors have very similar ideologies. Because of this, most students in college only get exposed to that type of belief system, closing their mind to all the other ideas out there.
After college, after I got a job, I realized I’d stopped learning much after leaving high school. And I felt empty inside because college hadn’t opened my mind to all the wonderful information out in the world.
So I realized I needed to do the legwork myself. I had paid thousands of dollars to go to college with the hopes that I would learn how to think, but instead I learned what to think. And I hate being told what to think. I wanted to learn myself. What is truth? What is reality? Why does the world work the way it does? Can I draw the same as Michelangelo (probably not, but I can try)? Can I learn different languages on my own? All these questions filled my mind with a deep longing to learn.
And so I have been learning. Just in my daily schedule, I force myself to study Chinese for 30 minutes a day, practice piano 30 minutes, and sketch 30 minutes. And this is outside the books I immerse myself into daily. No longer do I read light fantasies which I used to love in my teen years. They were nice, but they didn’t open my mind to new ideas.
We all are searching for meaning in life, whether we realize it or not. But what I’ve realized over the last few years is meaning does not just fall into your lap. You must brave a fiery desert and a sea of dangerous waves to find it.
That is why learning is important. And why it is more important than anything else in your life.
What are you learning?
I know this isn’t my typical type of post, but I’ve been musing a lot lately and I thought I would just regurgitate my thoughts here. Let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,