You Teach Me, Then I Teach You

Growing up, I had a problem many people share, which is that I couldn’t decide what career I wanted as an adult. I thought I was dead-set on being a scientist – whether an astronomer or paleontologist. I wanted to be an author, but not as full-time work, though I wouldn’t have minded if my works resulted in that.

Actually, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career until I was 26. This personal experience kind of just added to the reasons why I think it’s asinine that boomers and Xers pushed us later generations to just up and go to college… Our brains don’t finish developing until we’re 25 and you expect us to know the exact path we want our life to take for decades after? I’ve known people in their 50s who still don’t know…

ANYWAY, I’m rather glad I didn’t pursue a career in science, because I would not have enjoyed that. I think I enjoy others’ discoveries rather than making my own. which fits in to my main point with this. What did I do up until I was 26? Figuring it all out. I needed to understand life a bit more before making a permanent decision about my own. And related to my love for science, and the preference I now have to just let others make the discoveries … the same applies to people in general.

In a way, I am a scientist. Damn near all I do in my free time is ponder my own experiences, analyze other people, and study what others have recorded of their own experiences. Haven’t you noticed? My blog is called Thinking Michael, after all.

I learn from you. Yes, you, person reading this. Whether you are part of a statistic, or you have shared thoughts of your own, or you’re just someone walking by whom I’ll never see again …, it’s all valuable information. I am someone who needs to know things. I don’t use the word ‘need’ lightly here. In 2009’s Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., there’s dialogue between Holmes and Watson that goes like this:

Watson: “It’s been 3 months since your last case. Don’t you think it’s time you found another one?”

Holmes: “I can’t but agree. My mind rebels this stagnation: ‘Give me problems, give me work.’ The sooner the better.”

That’s exactly how my mind works. If it’s not working on some kind of problem at all times, boredom rapidly floods in and I start to get a little crazy. It’s opposite of the problem most other people have, which is ‘physical boredom,’ meaning they can’t cope with being inactive too long. My body doesn’t seem to care at all if I’m moving, it’s my brain that needs to be active at all times. And information is how it finds things to do. What don’t I know yet? What doesn’t anybody know yet? Was this tiny background detail in that movie important? Was it volcanic eruptions that made 536 the worst year to be alive? Did Blu-Rays win the format war against HD-DVDs simply because its name is easier to say?

At the end of the day, it all comes from everyone else. What others do, what they record, what they achieve, and even what people don’t do. I think about all of it. When I have a thought that doesn’t contradict anything else I currently know/believe, it becomes a theory of my own, and then I present it to you. Maybe you already know the fact or theory I am going to share, maybe you don’t, but I share it regardless. You all teach me, then I teach you.

I tend to remember colossal amounts of information, but time and time again, I learn that information doesn’t equal knowledge. Data and conclusions are not the same. One prime example of this is someone I haven’t seen since I was virtually still in diapers: my mother. I used to believe, strongly, that women were better, in every way, than men. This still while knowing everything my mother had done to myself and others, and my sister, and my exes, and just my ordinary friends. Sometimes, reexamining the evidence will make you see you were completely wrong the whole time. I’m writing a book about this very subject, and I think I’ll call it Mother Culture. I can’t wait for its completion, which should only be a few more weeks.