Because it is 3:00 in the morning please forgive any rambling incoherent sentences, I tend to get my wackiest thoughts at this time in the night/morning, whatever you want to call it.
Last week after a good conversation it was decided I needed to declare my major as history. Excited that I had made a decision (a new character trait for me) I called my mother to talk to her about it. She was naturally surprised that I had decided on something without waiting to the very last minute. She also brought up the fact she should/could have majored in history, it should be known my mother is the fountain of random historical, music, film trivia. No one else but my mother would know the name of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s favorite horse (it is Traveller if you are wondering, I’ve been asked the question enough times to know). So after the initial excitement the dreaded career question came up, but this time I was armed with an answer. In response to what kind of job would I get with a history degree I said that I had been told by a wise professor that unless I wanted to become a chemical analyst or an accountant, it didn’t really matter what I majored in. She seemed satisfied with my answer and I basked in the glory of my victory over the dreaded career question.
As I was reflecting over these series of events I wondered why it took me so long to believe that what I majored in did not necessarily have to dictate what my career would be. I am sure that I have been told that same piece of advice by several people, but for whatever reason it finally resonated.
So, while contemplating these matters I was struck by the thought (somewhat connected) of learning the difference between knowing vs understanding an idea. If I may, I’ll use the odd example that came to me while thinking about this. Knowing vs understanding could be compared to learning how to share. As a toddler when we first learn to share we are not completely aware of the reasons why we are doing it, we are told to do it, so we do. Over time, as we grow older, we understand the reasons behind sharing and we understand from experience what it means. We go from sharing a toy to eventually sharing our lives and our hearts with others.
I realize my struggle has been the wait, the wait for knowledge to become context for something greater. How often I struggle with an idea or a class because I am waiting for it to take meaning (and by waiting, I mean wanting it to happen now) and when it doesn’t, I lose focus and interest. As a sidenote, this sort of reminds me of a post I made in February about viewing my classes in their own bubble and lacking larger context. I also realize there isn’t enough time in the day to think about every little bit of knowledge that comes my way and worrying about how it fits into the grand scheme of things. Even if there was enough time, it wouldn’t be worth it. For now, I think I will be satisfied in my current understanding that things happen in time. Whether it is school work or just life issues often understanding just comes with experience.
I suppose this is why people view the world through different lenses. As a historian might view a piece of information one way an economist will have a different view, because what they have learned has become the context for understanding other things. Of course context also occurs outside what our careers may be, living life gives us context.