Not all knowledge (image source: http://www.leahsblessings.com)
All my life I have always been curious and even if I may not have always come across as the quintessential person with a lust for life always oozing bucketloads of positive energy, I have always been greedy for experiences and knowledge. I have retained much of my curiosity since day one but what about the root of my thirst for knowledge? Well I suppose it goes hand in hand with my curiosity and a mind traditionally never still and corrupted by ferocious restlessness and obsessions. When I was growing up in the 80s and part of the 90s before the internet entered our homes, I used to pester my mum relentlessly to purchase for me an encyclopaedia whenever we were shopping in town. By the time I was about 10 I had about 5 different encyclopaedias. Anybody remember Dean Tell Me The Answer? I had one of those bad boys. Before my profound interest in music entered my life when I was 12, studying my encyclopaedias, painting, tennis and collecting precious stones occupied most of my leisure time. No aimless Facebook and YouTube video trawling. I even once created my own encyclopaedia which I entered for a school competition and won the grand first prize of three English pounds.
From the age of 12 to 19 music almost had the monopoly on my total interests and I lapped up so much of it new and old; more than my brain could handle. Then at university I had a good friend who got me interested in good quality films and then a year later I became interested in literature. Even though I was taught certain literature at school, I was seldom interested or inspired by what I was taught.
Yet the big quantum leap in my thirst for knowledge began ten years ago at the age of 23 when I travelled by myself to Morocco for two weeks. That trip was the catalyst for a life long interest in travelling and exploring the world. I have spent so much of my time since then travelling and learning about different countries and cultures. My knowledge and understanding of the world was so much more myopic before my interest in travelling began.
However these last few years I have begun to question the concept of knowledge and what it means. For too long I arrogantly took to my bosom the phrase that ‘Knowledge Is Power’. Now whenever I see this quote in public places, I feel so inclined to brandish one of those spray cans and to add the word ‘Self’ before the word ‘Knowledge’. I have acquired all this bountiful knowledge but what use is it when my level of self-knowledge is next to zero? I had spent so much of my time looking out but how much had I really spent looking in. I liked to think that I was this deep person but deep down (no pun!) I was kidding myself. There’s this well known cliche about travelling to find yourself, yet I’d been travelling in many ways because I was afraid of myself and dealing with reality and society. I had learnt so much about many different countries, their histories and cultures and even though I had zig zagged across enormous swathes of the world I could seldom bring myself to search and explore myself. It is interesting how after a long time abroad, many travellers return to their home countries feeling lost, confused, depressed and out of synch with the rhythm and flow of their external environment. I believe most of the root of this is the great disconnection within themselves. I don’t believe it’s just because of their home countries being so different to the countries they visit. If you truly know yourself, you by extension are able to understand better other people regardless of their position in society: whether they are accountants, magicians, lawyers, painters, computer programmers, musicians, billionaires or beggars – this doesn’t matter. If you barely know yourself you will struggle to see beneath the facade of others. You will always become affected and a slave to other people’s behaviour: perhaps many times playing the victim role as opposed to taking more responsibility of your life.
Yet the journey in getting to know yourself is no pleasure cruise. Especially if you are always in constant fear of yourself. Yet this fear can be transcended. With the guidance of a good therapist or healer (preferably someone who has experienced all these challenges and overcame them) then this journey can truly begin. But they can only be your guide or facilitator. They cannot be a rescuer or saviour – there can be no dependence as with dependence there can be no true awakening.
By Nicholas Peart
4th September 2016
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