I have a learning disability. I’ve had it a long time. I’ve looked for it, but apparently it’s got no name. I call it “Obsessive Learning Disability”. It’s fueled by insatiable curiosity and an appetite to learn. I’ve learned that the more I learn about something, the more interesting it becomes. And that just snowballs into more learning. Which feeds the mechanism, motivates the cycle. And on and on it goes . . .
“Make do or do without.” That was an adage I learned at an early age. That and “If you want something, you’d better learn to do it yourself.” Buy it, build it – whatever it took. I learned to sew when I was seven or eight in order to make my own stuffed animals.
I learned that thing I try to teach first: Learn to teach yourself something – and took it from there. And apparently on through for the rest of my life.
As a result I’ve learned a lot of things – from furniture making by a Habersham carpenter, signage, art – I used to run my own woodshop; you know: the custom kind, specializing in ‘country pine’. I’ve had my own auto shop and did retail on my own. I’ve run a parts store (for the military no less) with over 30,000 ‘lines’ (meaning ‘different parts) – and I knew where every one of them were at.
I’m into learning like that. And some stuff sticks to me like, well . . . like poo. I’m a miner of trivial facts, science, technical, social and otherwise. I don’t go for Hollywood characters or fame – I’m not the kind of person who makes famous persons famous. I better known for technical facts than who did a song. Or who that last person that was introduced to me was.
Not everyone shares my thrill of learning; my wife doesn’t, my daughter doesn’t, my brother-in-law – well, my insatiable curiosity about drove him insane.
Odd. One of the things I’ve learned is lots of people choose not to learn anything beyond what they need to know to get them through the day. I don’t know if their childhood curiosity got killed, died, or what . . . but for me learning is (or was) tied to survival. I had to know. It was either that or get yourself hurt, punished, or almost killed sometimes. Or restricted to your room for weeks on end. With nothing to do but read . . . reading science books (for me) most of the time.
Technical details and facts stick in my head. Everything I read, everything I know comes from that insatiable curiosity to know. People say I’m the smartest man they know, but I don’t buy it. I know better. It makes me sad they compare me to others like that. I’ve met much smarter persons, and everyone is smart about something. It’s what they know that changes from person to person, era to era. Some are smart about horses; I’m not. I’m as ignorant as sticks when it comes to electronic circuits (one of the few things I know little about.) I’ve met many an ignorant man who was wiser than me. And some who were stupid.
“Ignorance is bliss”. There’s a bit of truth in that. Learning isn’t the curse, but knowledge can hurt you. Just ask the spouse of an unfaithful lover, or a child abuse survivor sometime. Or a soldier who gets a letter from home.
Ignorance is dangerous, too. What you don’t know can kill you. But as the Bible points out, knowledge isn’t wisdom – and a lot of knowledge can bring a lot of pain and suffering. Or a way out of things.
Which brings me to this: Some people are too stupid to know they’re ignorant – I’ve seen it. They go around thinking they’ve got all the facts when they don’t. And they refuse to acknowledge it or even listen. Not only are they fact deficient, but they’re too stupid to realize taht. They don’t want to go through the process of learning – or accepting – something that will change their vision. They just go plodding, wondering why their life sucks without ever really having a clue what is wrong. They go around thinking and blaming someone else – when the fact (and joke) is it is them and their refusal to see things as they really are.
Perhaps some people’s purpose in life is to be a bad example. A warning to the rest of us. As in ‘how not to think about things’ – or live your life sometimes.
I read a lot of studies; always have – I follow science like a nightmare, with devout attention to details, theorems and such. I dive into the diversity of particles; I am in awe.
I find it amusing we are each the center of our own little universe, given the expansion of space. (Click here to see an explanation for that, as well as an interactive Flash illustration to give you a good clue.)
Knowledge is not power, by the way, no matter what they say. Power is the knowledge of how to use people – that’s something I’ve observed first hand.
Do you know they did a study some years back (business folks giving a meeting, listen up!). It showed where, during a business meeting, the person who spoke the most got the most ‘recognition’ from the group and was the one they were following – even if that person was throwing out some illogical and unworthy ideas. What counted was they were throwing out a LOT of them.
The person in the back giving the right answer every time (and nothing more) was ignored.
What’s that tell you about them?