One of the nice benefits of writing is that you are always learning. Writers are great observers of the world and of people.
– Margaret George
When I was in my late teens, I researched everything I could about tarot cards, where they originated from, what the cards meant, how they were tied to Kabbalism, and so on.
Since then, I’ve studied many things, like dreams for instance. I put together a dream group with a few friends for the benefit of speedy interpretation by us now-professional dream interpreters, since I bought a book about it all. I journaled throughout, cataloguing each dream, deciphering each symbolic action and notable event.
I then stepped into a philosophical world, reading John Locke, Aristotle, Confucius, Plato, Dante, Camus, Socrates, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Emerson, and others. I was a sponge, taking in everything that I could dig up. And, of course, I wrote. I wrote my opinions and beliefs and then questioned what I believed, comparing my answers to what they discussed.
I have always ferreted out different avenues of research, thought, and speculation, to learn something new. And each avenue has commingled with writing.
The truth of it is, I can’t stop writing. Sometimes I wake from a dream and I’m writing, telling a story, something magical and spry. I wish I had a USB port in the back of my head. I could plug a recorder to my brain and catch all the words before they dissipated like smoke when I woke from a deep slumber.
I like to study spiritual books too, always on the search for something that will tingle the wisps of my soul. And then there’s the learning of food and drink and how best to care for my body, to not poison it anymore for the benefit of a few seconds of supposed good-tasting bites.
I study yoga and its precepts, the different styles and asanas, and find inspiration in the calming of the mind after an asana practice—a moment of reprieve from the hectic brain and all its wants and fanciful thinking, to find a sustainable connection to the divine.
Depending on the book and its premise, and if it catches my attention. I like to be snared with a book’s language and ideas and characters.
I read a great book about exorcism in America called American Exorcism by Michael W. Cuneo, detailing a multitude of exorcisms performed throughout our nation. Who would have guessed?
Another interesting read was a book about the early trade routes of China before Columbus took the spotlight called 1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. How could I go wrong with: “Over ten years ago I stumbled upon an incredible discovery, a clue hidden in an ancient map which […] suggested that the history of the world as it has been known and handed down for centuries would have to be radically revised.”
I was hooked.
And then there was my study of Berlin and the Cold War, which lead me to Battleground Berlin: CIA vs KGB in the Cold War by David E. Murphy, Sergei A Kondrasheve, and George Bailey.
And there’s always a “pleasure” book to read, the books that are primarily written to entertain, like the book I’m reading now, The Providence Rider by Robert R. McCammon.
Books aren’t the only way for me to gain insight and knowledge though. There’s my participation in life: meeting people, observing interactions, engaging in activity and adventure. There is always something to learn, something to see, something to change how I perceive the world.
I am always learning. Not just about things or people, but myself too.
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