Three weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry on curiosity being a key aspect to being a kid for life. This week is a carryover from part 1. Part 1 was built on the notion that kids tend to ask big questions of the world, and it all stems from curiosity. A kid has an intrinsic desire to learn about the world, and that is what you must duplicate as an adult.
In this entry, I take it another step forward. I explore potential and the mindset you must carry in life. With great curiosity comes great responsibility (based on philosopher Voltaire’s original quote “With great power comes great responsibility”).
In the process of learning more about kids, we learn more about ourselves and what makes us human. We are just barely scratching the surface of the universe and what we understand of what makes us tick.
Intro/Life of a Gem-cutter
(Starting a bit off topic but there is a point to it all) Many years ago –almost 7 years to be exact–, I wrote a college admission essay for Rutgers University. It was the only college I applied to as it was the most convenient location-wise and financially. I knew I was going to be accepted before I even applied (Rutgers is not tough to get into) so I didn’t consider or bother applying elsewhere.
In that essay, I wrote about the life of a gem-cutter. More specifically, I compared education & learning to the life of a gem-cutter. Here’s one of the passages I wrote (ignore the grammar errors!):
“I consider college to be a very important ‘tool’ to shape one’s life and to help prepare for the future. Attending and learning at such a prestigious college as Rutgers can be compared to the job of a gem-cutter. Every diamond they work with is initially found inside a large clump of rock. Gem-cutters work tirelessly to remove the rough exterior and reshape what’s inside. College can be seen as something similar, having to work with a wide variety of backgrounds to bring the best out of each individual so they may be positive influences on society. A successful person is not created until his/her rough edges are chipped away; college education has a big hand in that by providing knowledge. For me, I have a complex background with a wide range of experiences that can help benefit and contribute to my college life. Like everyone else I have my strengths and weaknesses, and I need college to remove the rough edges and to bring out the best in me.”
Chip away the rough edges and keep building on it. That’s what must apply to life itself. Rough edges is what potential is, and we all have that.
What I didn’t understand back when I wrote the essay is that you’re always rough edge in something – you’re never truly a finished product. College might help chip away something in your major of choosing and teach lessons & experiences, but it will never chip away everything. I was simply expecting too much; I was also foolish back then to think that knowledge was everything. Knowledge is worthless if you lack the wisdom to give meaning to that knowledge. Of course, I would write that essay bit differently now, but that’s besides the point.
As a kid, you have so much more to learn of the world and about yourself. You are all potential of what you can improve, where you can improve, and how you can improve. A child may not think that way, but as adults we do understand potential.
That mindset is very important to carry over to adulthood. Too often, people become complacent in their lives once they get a job and get somewhat settled. They stop thinking of tomorrow and become stuck in today and just continuing business-as-usual while precious time continues to tick away.
You are never going to be a finished product – it is your goal in life to keep pushing yourself to learn more. When you’re in school, you are forced to read books and write essays or analyze things as classwork, but as an adult, things obviously change. Nobody will care if you read or don’t read books after graduating from school/college. That is why it is much more important that you take the self-initiative yourself and hold the mindset to keep learning.
It is your responsibility as a human-being to recognize that your journey is never finished, and you must keep improving yourself in any way possible. Curiosity alone is only half the game.
The other half is taking the time to continue that by picking up a book/articles or picking up pen & paper or something else that can help build your imagination & ideas – paint brush, camera for photography, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, etc. Even meditation can help. Specific video-games can help in this avenue (MUST have storyline & character development almost like a storybook).
Capability & Experience
Every individual is capable of much, but we don’t tend to push our boundaries. The cost of that is grievous to some degree.
People want to feel safe by continuing to do what they feel is comfortable. Watching movies on TV may be more comfortable and require less thinking than reading a book. Texting a friend may be more comfortable, socially enjoyable, and require less thinking than writing a story or essay/blog entry. On and on I can go, but you get the point.
As much as we may not want to admit it, critical thinking and working on imagination is a necessity. This is where I divulge more into the responsibility aspect.
Our responsibility to humanity is not just for ourselves individually but also advancing collectively. If we all spent more time critically thinking each day, I would argue that we would have more progress as a species. Ideas are almost contagious in the way that one person’s idea could lead to ideas by 50 other people to build upon like a domino effect (below). Small ideas lead to bigger and better ideas over time.
Of course, there are other factors involved such as the need to communicate those ideas & to do something with those ideas, but I won’t get into all that here.
There is one advantage that adults tend to have over kids: more years worth of life experiences. Both good and bad experiences that we learned from. We may have made mistakes, ran into issues, learned from somebody else that did. It gives us some wisdom. All of this means an upper hand, but most of us don’t capitalize on it unfortunately.
While kids may lack life experiences and maturity, they tend to have the right mindset to learn and expand on their horizons. We adults have more life experiences but tend to lack the right mindset. To be a kid for life, that must change.
Potential of what you can be is the compass that must guide and push you. You may not fulfill 5% of your potential, but it’s worth trying. Even if you don’t fulfill it, it’s fine as you learned much about the world and may have contributed something to society in the process. Just never become complacent.
I have already talked about this before on my older blog entries, but for me personally, learning things is the most important thing. Knowledge inspires me and gets something tingling within. On the other hand, I also understand that not everyone out there may be an academic, but everyone can make time to learn & read if they so desire (nobody is too busy 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year!). It’s not even only about learning things but more broadly developing your imagination. Learning is simply a component of that.
Overall, it is important to stay young mentally. Have fun, be curious, ask questions, and grasp your potential! Be a kid for life, my friend.