i have been doing a lot of reading this summer. and by reading, i mean self-directed learning.
from my 40 minute commute to and from work, to the built in time at my internship i have to research ‘current issues,’ to my afternoons (that seemingly always turn into day long events) reading in various parks, cafes, and benches, it seems like the more i read, the more i realize how little i truly know.
i guess i should be a little more specific. while i have read some (okay, okay, 5) novels for pure entertainment, i have recently shifted to reading material that challenges me intellectually and personally. i find myself reading and searching for articles that inform me about the world, essays that promote (and demand) critical thinking, and works/novels that encourage me to ask questions, seek out answers, and consider what it would mean (and take) for things to change. as a result, i have began to grow.
i knew that in one way or another, i would always be in school. so maybe i am not a student of a particular university, but rather, a student of the world. lucky for me i have always enjoyed learning, and in particular, reading…but i’ll be the first to admit that when it came to school, i was more concerned about making the honor roll than mastering the material. in grad school however, things shifted. not only did i begin to care less about the grades, i also started to care more about understanding the entire subject and related areas-rather than simply what was needed for the course. and to be even more honest, there were plenty of things i didn’t think i was interested in (for example: energy, business, oil) so i never took the time to learn about. but now i realize that i was just being silly. the truth is that everything matters. and in my opinion, everything is connected. i’m not sure how i could have been so concerned with poverty and social injustice without taking into serious consideration the multiple ways in which our society contributes to it.
i realize that i have talked about not knowing anything several times on this blog, so i apologize for the repetition, but i continusouly find my days becoming more meaningful after I have become more aware of and sensitive to the challenges people must face on a daily basis….tribulations that my privileged life have not had to encounter. unfortunately, i can not say that I made my day meaningful after hours upon hours of brainstorming to arrive at the most brilliant and effective solutions to all of the world’s problems. and to be honest, i can not even say that i made my day meaningful by pro-actively directing my efforts towards a grassroots organization or specific cause. all i can say is that today was meaningful because i got stressed out. and the only reason i got stressed out was because i read. unlike the panic attacks i experienced during school however, this feeling of stress was different. i felt hopeless, outraged, confused, frustrated, and optimistic all within a matter of minutes. in fact, i’ve never felt so comfortable in not having the right answer. but most of all, i felt like i simply needed to learn more. i also wondered why its taken me this long to recognize that its hard to be passionate about (or have a strong opinion on) topics you know very little about. what i have learned is that before the answers, solutions, and critiques, must come an understanding of the issue at hand. in fact, i think its silly to cast judgements or offer criticism on things you know little about or have no understanding of.
maybe you hate school, and maybe you hate reading even more. i would argue that maybe you haven’t found the right topic, book, or medium to motivate you to learn. regardless of your particular area of interest, i have a feeling that if you knew more about all of the diverse challenges the world faces -both nationally and internationally- you would stumble upon something that moved you….. and maybe you wouldn’t. if you are okay with that, then that’s okay too ..but my unfaltering optimism leads me to believe that if you did a little digging, you would uncover something that really mattered to you.
find something to care about.
if your heart is in the right place, i don’t think the topic matters all that much.
today i challenge you to read something beyond the scroll at the bottom of the television, the sports section in the newspaper, or the article from your favorite magazine. i do not mean to suggest that these materials don’t have value, all i am suggesting is that you try something new today. :)
today was meaningful because i read about things i didn’t fully understand, and then googled the subjects i had questions on.
today was meaningful because i didn’t come up with any answers, but only more questions.
don’t you want your life to mean a little more?