There’s So Much to Know, and Not Enough Time
There’s an incredible amount of information available to us daily. We can’t learn it all, but we can learn some, so choose how you spend your time wisely.
Mar 14, 2023
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all that I don’t know. By the day, it becomes more and more apparent that there are even fewer things I actually know. Even the idea of “knowing” is tenuous. Then, there’s things I know I don’t know, such as architecture or the physiology of cats. I’m fully aware of the limitations of my knowledge in these subjects, which is minimal at best. Finally, there’s the even scarier realm of things I don’t know I don’t know, which find me randomly. Like, the moment I first learned that the N@zis were influenced by the United States systems of racism and oppression, specifically Jim Crow laws. There is a breadth of unknown knowledge that ranges from innocent to severe that alludes me, but each day I work through the pile and learn a bit more.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “know” as “to have information in your mind.” “In your mind” is such interesting phrasing. The way it makes the mind seem like a vessel, like two cupped palms trying to hold onto water. Having information in our minds, the process of “knowing,” is addictive and critical for our grasp of the world. Some knowledge is benign, like knowing how cats can right themselves midair, while other knowledge (or lack of) can be harmful, like being unaware of the history of racism in the United States and how it’s still embedded in the systems of today (see Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow to get started). There’s so much information out there. There’s so much to read, watch, listen to, and learn.
When choosing what to pick up next—whether it’s a show, a book, a podcast—I try to check-in with myself. What can I emotionally process right now? This question helps me determine if I need something light or heavy. Then, I review what’s on my list of things to watch, listen to, or read. Does anything speak to me? If not, I may give myself to the algorithmic gods and see if it can recommend something that pulls me in. My process is very intuitive. Finally, I make a choice. I give it time. If my choice doesn’t meet what I need in the moment, I don’t force myself to finish it. I put it down and try something else. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Unfortunately, there will never be enough time to know it all, but there is time to learn some. Make it easy to choose what you’d like to learn next by making a list of topics and content. Understand what you need in the moment. Be selective and choose wisely. Remember to learn for fun or learn something fun. We only have so much time, so learning should be a practice that sustains you.