Knowledge is a Burden


A question crossed my mind the other week: if I had an opportunity to know everything about everything in the world, would I take it?

Like most people, my first reaction was “Hell fucking yes! Who wouldn’t want that! I’d win every argument! I’d cure cancer! I’d bring about global peace! Or, more likely I’d take over the world!” Then I thought about it. And realized the answer was no, no I absolutely would not.

In an age where we are so overwhelmed with knowledge that it’s impossible to keep up, it would seem at first glance like this would be a good thing. I’m never going to read every book on my list, see every play, movie or show that I want to watch. I’m never going to know as much about history, or get to every museum. Why wouldn’t I want all of that in my head?

Then I thought about the cost. The cost would be the experience. The cost would be the ability to think on my own. The cost would be the ability to feel.

In a way, the cost would be my life.

Sometimes I get so caught up in catching up that I forget that the journey is the important thing. To inherently know everything would be to eliminate experiences like my first opera, or the way it felt to see the world premiere run of Between the Lines and hear what we call “the Mermaid Song” nearly blow the doors off Spencer Theater. Or the first time I read Way of the Peaceful Warrior and felt its truth. The list of valuable experiences like that in my life is truly endless.

Knowing everything takes exploration, curiosity and wonder out of the equation. Which takes away the joy of the journey. In a way that is taking away a piece of knowledge. You learn the facts but miss the lesson about yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the pursuit of knowledge. I never want to stop learning, or growing, or changing. I want to seek. I want to understand. I want to contemplate.

I’m not satisfied with knowing. I want to engage. I want to embody.

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