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The Pursuit of Knowledge

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in the upstairs room of the local coffee shop, having just hung up the phone with a designer who I had interviewed for a podcast episode. As I glanced out the window, and watched the people below, sipping at macchiatos, taking a puff on their cigarettes, and sharing new ideas formulating from recently acquired information, or a long thought of dream yet to be lived, I looked back through the conversation I had just had, and was amazed at how many subjects we had covered, the plethora of ideas that we discussed, and the many things that I had learnt, all in a one hour call.

There is something about the way we interact as people, about what we say and why we say it, about how we share the things we’ve just found out, and talk about what’s important to us.

It’s because were driven by curiosity, and an inquiry into each others lives; and this is what we live for, the pursuit of knowledge.

We often think of knowledge as simply information gained by experience, or that which is shared with us by those who have been “through the trenches,” as it were, but while this is true, it is also much more.

Knowledge is not only the practical understanding of a subject or way of thinking; it is a clear and unquestionable comprehension of that which exists. It’s the discernment and perception of the connection between the agreement or disagreement of our ideas, it’s what we all yearn to have more of, and will all gain to some extent, over the course of our lives.

With knowledge, we are able to build upon the foundation of understanding until we have a solid structure, around which to form the infrastructure of our ideas, to put face to our beliefs.

Knowledge is gained by exercising wisdom through the experiences that you allow yourself to walk through, and the people you spend your time with. The pursuit of knowledge, therefore, stems from a hunger for learning that envelopes your mind, and pushes you on to new horizons. In a day like the one in which we exist, there are many ways to look for answers to questions, so avail yourself of every opportunity to learn. There is a virtual database which is literally at our fingertips, that we could explore and examine until we went insane.

But why do we have this desire and urge? Because the finding out, and sharing of knowledge with one another is a pillar in the mansion of life; it is a function of our being that will only discontinue when there is no breath left in our lungs. And it’s because of the small amount of knowledge that we actually have — and the realization of that fact — which drives our curiosity, and inquiry into each others lives; this is what we live for = the pursuit of knowledge, because knowledge, as Plato said, is food to the soul:

“And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.”

There are often presented before us, two ways to travel upon, and both have their respective benefits.

If you decide to take what is commonly known as ‘the hard way’ — that of personal experience — you step into a world of unknowns that only time will open unto you.

If you choose to learn from another who has been there, and done that, the road will usually, but not always, be much easier. Wisely choosing which road to take can be the difference between life and death, or at least save you the pain of many headaches. The paths will obviously not always be so clear. In times of confusion, it can be hard to determine the correct path, but in the end, the way you choose will teach you lessons that you very likely did not expect to uncover.

When I first began in the field of design, there was, and always will be, so much I didn’t know. Thankfully, growing up in the later 90′s-2000′s, media was beginning to be, and now is, all around me, and when I decided on my career, there was plenty of information available to draw from. But cut and dry information alone is not enough, and often will turn a person off from seeking to attain a greater level of understanding in the career they are pursuing.

A huge plus in my situation, was the opportunity to intern for, and be mentored by, a good friend and designer, who had been in the video/design industry for over 20 years. I was able to work along side one who, in comparison to me, had a great amount of knowledge and insight into the owning and managing of a business, the day-to-day communication with clients, and how to deal with the many challenges one is faced with each day. The opportunity to draw from someone’s knowledge, and have them there to walk you through, from their own experience, everything they went through, so you can avoid the pitfalls that tripped them up, is almost incomparable to any other experience I know of.

I have received many emails with questions on how to get started in this field, and where to look for advice and teaching, and my answer is usually consistent with the story I just shared. If at all possible, seek out that mentor who can direct you through the early stages of your career life, as it were, and point you to the good sources of information, understanding, and inspiration.

In conclusion, life is a road traversed by all that does not go on forever. At some point or another, the twists and turns will cease to come, the span of your life will reach its end, and the road will come to a halt.

They say we’re always learning something new; so be sure to take advantage of every opportunity, not only in partaking, but also in opening yourself up as a source of information and inspiration, for those who are not as far down the path as yourself.

We are on a journey with a destination; choose each path well, and always be prepared to learn. Don’t worry about genius, or not being clever, there will always be someone who knows more than you. Instead, work hard, stay hungry, and don’t be foolish. I’m on this journey with you; I enjoy being with those that I admire and love, and I look forward to seeing where we all end up. In the meantime, let’s share what we know, and learn from one another — and may the odds be ever in our favor.