Learning: A Process, Not a Destination

"Try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now." - Rainer Maria Rilke

I was at the book store the other day, skimming through book after book, trying to decide, out of the fifteen I had pulled off the shelf, which one looked the most appealing. As usual, I was looking for something nonfictional, something filled with scientific facts and information in order to temporarily satisfy my never ending desire to learn about something new. As I was looking through my options, I glanced back at the smallest book in my pile. It was a fictional short story. I picked it up, preparing to take it back to its place on the shelf as I was positive that it wasn't what I was searching for. Before I put it back, I opened it, and found this quote. I smiled to myself after reading it, thinking of how Melissa and I often joke about my incessant question-asking. We have spent countless very late nights having discussions that probably wouldn't have gone on for four hours if I hadn't asked so many questions. That is always how I have been; I search for what I don't know and then feel an urgency to rid myself of the lack of knowledge. I ended up buying that book, but it wasn't until I finished it that I realized what poet Rainer Maria Rilke was trying to say to his readers. Sometimes questions are best left unanswered. Why? Because it opens opportunities to excitement, passion, and discovery; excitement for the mystery of what we don't know, passion that is formed through interest and curiosity, and discovery of what was being searched for. I realized I wasn't exercising the things we are encouraging our kids to do, which is explore, learn through experience, and then reap the benefits. All people, children and grownups alike, are going to achieve a whole new level of learning if they are interested in the questions and find the means to figure out the answers themselves. It is amazing what we can achieve when we seek to not only discover, but also to experience the entire process that learning demands.

"Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Rainer Maria Rilke


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