“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
Meet the Robinsons is one of my favorite movies. It exalts learning and curiosity to epic status, yet demonstrates people’s frailties and foibles. Goofy, ordinary characters achieve breakthroughs by following the motto “keep moving forward.”
My law office is run on a similar motto: “Be better.” Those two words succinctly describe our aims in virtually every aspect of our work. A general commitment to improvement carries over into all aspects of life.
I routinely expose my mind to ideas and information because I want to continue to grow as I age rather than pass time living day to day. Learning new things helps me better understand the topic at hand, to be sure. Certain kinds of knowledge help in obvious ways, such as to better understand a scientific principle applied to a crime lab or how to make better use of my time. Those are examples of practical learning with direct application.
Subtle enrichment is more satisfying and far-reaching, though. Gaining new perspectives on life and work can be advantageous in ways practical learning can’t. New information also has a way of rearranging my understanding of previous knowledge. Learning seemingly esoteric topics provide a tremendous advantage in holistic thinking. Seeing “the big picture,” where various things fit in relation to others, is gratifying, even joyful. Sometimes, it’s even life-altering.
I haven’t kept track of my learning journey during most of my life, but I have looked back to determine how much I’ve consumed in the form of books and audiobooks since the spring of 2021. At this writing, I am consuming my 68th book over 22 months.
Topics I’ve sought out are wide-ranging. Here’s a partial list in no particular order: philosophy, astronomy and cosmology, physics, mythology, drama, comedy, biology, self-improvement, management, economics, politics, linguistics, mathematics, news and media, race relations, history, belief systems, science, anthropology, misinformation and propaganda, archeology, international relations, evolution, business, psychology, writing and creativity, morality and ethics, organization, efficiency, productivity, maximization of resources, health and wellness, materials and engineering, vision and planning.
Of course, I seek out professional development, as well. Seminars, articles, legal publications, and case law are normal readings for me. Non-professional reading is a daily habit and includes news stories, editorials, and magazines. Until the last few years, I have subscribed to at least two newspapers since my preteen years.
I feel fortunate to be curious about many things. Addressing that curiosity wasn’t always easy.
My home was a remote, rural neighborhood, and I didn’t frequently go to town. No computers or internet were available. We didn’t have cable or satellite. Television was limited to a few broadcast stations picked up by tall outdoor antennae. We had almost no books, aside from several bibles. Exposure to information was usually limited.
One exception stood out to me: bookmobile visits. (Bookmobiles are small libraries mounted on a truck or bus). It may seem quaint in an age of digitized books, audio, and video, but the bookmobile was an oasis for me. I gained access to thousands of books on numerous topics because county officials spent money on staff and a bus to carry shelves of books to the rural areas.
Reading became my first opportunity to encounter a vast kaleidoscope of ideas and knowledge. It was a resource critical to my development.
The ladies in charge were good to me, allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. I read books on virtually every topic and always wanted more. I still do.
I believe a better understanding of other perspectives and knowledge makes me a better person. That is important to me because I believe it carries over into my profession, and I am keenly aware of how much impact my work has on the lives of my clients.
I plan to live up to “be better” and to “keep moving forward.”
“Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.” – Steve Jobs