“Tod, when do you have time to learn about some of the things you write about that aren’t related to what you do?”
I suppose I should say something like this:
I don’t sleep as much as I should, but more importantly, I find a lot of joy in learning new things, almost as much as in solving problems.
But really, what I do is a such a broad thing that it is hard to imagine that somehow all things aren’t related. So I give myself permission to follow my muse (who seems more like Kathy Najimy than Olivia Newton-John) and learn whatever seems relevant, or potentially relevant. Or meets my threshold of interest. Or is convenient.
“Potentially.” What a lovely word. The notion of potential to me always come down to the difference between kinetic energy and potential energy. That difference being a book falling from the edge of a table and the same book on the table’s edge but not yet falling. A knife’s (table’s) edge difference between the two.
Learning anything creates potential. Potential from learning is unlimited. This is because we can’t imagine the all the possible relationships that might exist. After all, how many people saw the parallel between A Chorus Line and the brutality of seeking a tenure track position? Connections happen, especially as you learn more outside your typical areas of focus.
This is why I keep reading a lot and follow people like @saragoldrickrab @tressiemcphd @rkelchen @dynarski @DyingSparrows @jonbecker @the_other_jeff @readywriting @BigSamThompson @GoogleGuacamole and a host of others. It can be challenging to follow and read these people, and read fiction, watch movies, listen to music, play golf, make furniture, brew beer, bang out tunes on the banjo, and all the other things I like to do. But that is the nature of learning – time management.
None of this is meant to imply that learning is always fun. Indeed, sometimes it is. Other times it sucks. Royally. Confronting painful truths and struggling to master difficult physical skills can be awful. But such pain does not preclude joy. It heightens the feeling by providing a needed contrast between suckiness and joyfulness.
Today i learned (again) that some people are immune to context. Even when it is all around them, explicitly.
I want so badly to laugh. But it is ill-advised, save in the lonely depths of the night. Away from people who might ask after the object of my laughter.
Learning is joyful.