If You Love It, Study It

You’ve probably heard someone say this kind of thing before: “Now that you know how it works, doesn’t that take all the fun out of it?”

Plenty of people endeavor to study subjects they feel inexorably drawn to—and certainly not to rid them of their fun or magic. It’s like explaining the joke; as if studying something removes, somehow, its inherent joy. Like we can’t laugh once we’ve learned.

I was listening to a podcast recently where a NASA astronomer was discussing past conversations she had with non-astronomers about stargazing for fun. She said several people assumed stargazing would no longer be enjoyable for her now that she knows so much about the stars she sees. But she said the opposite was true—stargazing now feels even more magical with her added knowledge.

Milky Way over Castle Geyser
Photo by Yellowstone National Park

 

This misconception—that deep study anesthetizes joy in any experience—fundamentally doubts abundance, doubts the infinite nature of knowledge revealed through study.  We’ve learned much about the stars, yes, but certainly not all. Not even close. The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know, and thus the more we want to learn. Learning and study are what get us to the threshold of a hallway with many doors. Without it, we wouldn’t even be aware of the doors, much less how long the hallway is. Without it, everything looks like a dead end. The inherent joy in learning, for me, is its continual abundance. I’m realizing that mastery is a myth, and a dull one at that.

So I have faith in the infinite abundance of our world, and the slow unfurling of knowledge. And that is plenty magic for me.

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