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The Real Me #1: Acquisition of Knowledge

March 6, 2008

Remember that project I decided to start?

Since I’ve decided to follow William James’ advice, I’ve been trying to think of the moments in my life that I felt truly alive, or filled with a purpose, or like I’m truly living rather than just going through the motions. (It’s hard to put such a personal and emotional concept into words, but I’m gonna try anyway!) And it isn’t even as if every single “truly living” experience happens the same way, and involves the same reactions on my part, which only makes this more complicated for me to share.

It’s also hard to choose the thing I wanted to write about as my #1 living experience. Certainly the heart-filling emotions I felt when I first held Gabe, or the constant joy involved in being part of relationships are worthy of being number 1. I almost feel guilty that I’m not choosing those, but then I remember: this is about the real me, the true me, the living me. I get to choose.

I am a scholar. I’m never so happy as when I have my nose buried in a book, with my notes surrounding me, and I’m learning something I didn’t know before. The pursuit of knowledge is so intense that I literally feel as if my skin tingles when I’m on the chase. (Golly, I sound like such a nerd.) Although, with the limitless opportunities for learning, it isn’t every little piece of trivia that earns this reaction from me – it’s only things that are important to me for some reason.

When I was really little, I struggled with math. (Ironically, I now struggle with algebra. How little things change…) It was the concept of “carrying the one” in simple mathematical subtraction that was my most remembered stumbling block. I just did not understand where that little one came from, and so the entire concept eluded me. No explanation my Mom gave me could really make me understand it, no matter how hard she tried. I remember just sitting there, trying to understand.

And then, suddenly, I did. It literally was a light bulb moment for me. I’m not sure what I did, or how I did it, but all of a sudden I “understood” the value of the placement of those numbers. This is one of my most vivid memories because of the suddenness of that moment. And quite probably, that moment shaped my entire future.

In college, I spent a night with a guy, and if I had to characterize what was truly wonderful about college, this was it. He and I spent the entire night sitting at a picnic table outside a residence hall, discussing the writings of Plato and Aristotle while chain smoking and drinking Mountain Dew. It was surreal, a moment in my life where reality was paused in the sheer joy of the exchange of ideas. It will always be something I treasure about my college experience.

Once Tim and I had a little house and I no longer lived in the dorms, the opportunities for random discussions and debates decreased a bit, but never stopped. I can’t tell you the number of times I debated and discussed the historical origins of monotheism or women’s rights and the history of anti-abortion philosophy while on my front porch. Even now I still enjoy the opportunity to discuss and debate when given the chance – as long as there is the free exchange of ideas.

When people ask me what I went to college for, I usually tell them psychology. It’s an easy, simple and honest answer. The real problem comes in when I try to explain why I went to college. Yes, I was pursuing a degree in psychology, but I was also gobbling up classes in sociology, history, philosophy, economics, literature and writing, art, anthropology, ethnic studies, theology, and any other field of study that interested me. I studied why things are the way they are, and what we can do to change things. I studied the experiences of others, and dreamed of adding my own to them someday. I gobbled it all up.

Tim and I dream about going back to college. If we win the lottery, we’ll probably both study our way to Ph.D’s and have a blast the entire way. (I’m not sure yet how Gabe can come with us, but we’ll figure that out as we go!) We work so well together because we share the same passion, the same love of learning. We showed that two people of equal stubbornness (although he really is more stubborn than I am…) can not only get along, but complement each other perfectly. I’m guessing that a certain opinionated and stubborn political science student is the only person who can truly fit my opinionated and stubborn self so perfectly:o)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Timmy permalink
    March 6, 2008 11:16 am

    I love you with my whole heart.
    And just a note she is the stubborn one. 😛

  2. March 6, 2008 11:17 am

    Yes dear – I’m sure you’re right:)

    (Seriously, I thought YOU were gonna do that!)

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