At our most fundamental level, humans are programmed to survive. Your body will fight for it’s right to live in any circumstance. Part of what’s made humanity’s success is our ability to learn about the world around us, and use it to our advantage.
We may be far and away from natural selection among our species, although these Darwin Awards are quite amusing, yet our instinctual drive to learn ever yearns. Starve this desire and you will succumb to the vices of the world.
This begs the question, what should we be learning? In the age of information, your choices are endless. Endless to the point where your decision to learn one thing will be at the expense of another. How are we to choose which subjects to dedicate our precious time? Is there a consequence to choosing the “wrong” thing to learn?
To an extent, yes. There is a basic set of fundamentals that we all must acquire to function within society. How to read, write, feed oneself, harbor sustainable shelter. These are the basic tenants of survival, ones that have remained the same for thousands of years.Past that,
Past that, what should we be filling our heads with? Not all knowledge was created equal. Clearly, some information will be more valuable than other information. To whom though, and when? At the ripe age of 21 I’m not going spend much time learning to knit, for example, unless I decide to value the craft of knitting enough to make it some sort of marketable skill in the near future.
On the other hand, I could spend my time learning the intricacies of financial planning. That could be a skill that would serve me for life. At a younger age, it would do me better than waiting for my 30s or 40s to become financially responsible.
But what if I am passionate about geology? Not to the point that I’d get a degree in the study of the Earth, but simply as something I find interesting. Is my time well spent learning about different rock formations? Sure, I could then talk someone’s ear off on the subject, but would that serve me in my quest for survival?
I believe it entirely true that not all knowledge need serve you in some tangible way. We live in an age where most people can spend 95% of their time on something other than their direct survival. Eating and drinking to fuel your body in whatever it is you choose to devote your time to.
Thus, the question becomes what is it that you want to learn? What interests you enough to spend an hour reading about? What skill do you think would be cool, fun, or useful to have that you would spend a few months developing?
The worst that can happen is you determine that whatever it is you’ve chosen no longer peaks your curiosity. No harm was done, you’ve learned something new about yourself in the process and can use that to move to the next thing.
There really are no right or wrong answers. If you want to become a butterfly expert, by all means, go ahead and study those amusing creatures. Learn everything you can about them and heck, you may even discover something new that no one else did before.
That’s the beauty of it all. There’s so much out there that whatever you choose, you can become an expert. If you’re passionate about it or not, simply digging deep into study can put you in the 1% of people with knowledge on that subject.
Become an expert at only handful of these interests and now you’re one of a kind. Only you have the combined knowledge to create something new out your specialized skills. Don’t worry about what it is, follow your curiosity and any knowledge will serve you well.