I believe satisfaction comes from depth of knowledge not breadth of knowledge. I find myself most happy when I’m allowed to geek out about something; to pursue it as long as I want, in pursuit of some fundamental understanding of it. It is easy to know something, but very hard to understand something. In high school, I remember the day we dissected sharks in my biology class. I found it fascinating. To me that shark represented so much information; so much intricacy of design and function, I could have spent all day looking at it. However, this was high-school, so we had 45 minutes to learn everything about about the shark; at least well enough to pass the test. Then we would be shoved off to math class for another 45 minutes, which may or may not be enough time to learn whatever that day’s lesson was. This situation left me and so many of my friends feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied with our school experience.
We treat our brains like sponges. In school we skim over the surface of a lot of subjects hoping to absorb enough facts to pass our tests. Facts that we’ll only forget in later years, as “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” proves. I think I gain more satisfaction and benefit when I treat my brain like a pump, actively pulling in as much information on one idea as possible. This is why we love our hobbies. We all need something to geek out over; something we take pleasure in pumping into our brains. For some people its cars, for some its sports, for some its music. My hobby is computers and I just can’t pump in enough technology information. I can read one article about the iPhone, then listen to three or four podcast in which people give their opinions, then research it even further and digest and synthesize that knowledge in a way I don’t often get to do. Exercising my mind in this way gives me an intellectual fulfillment that I never got from the education machine.
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