Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hungry for Knowledge


The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live.


--Mortimer J. Adler




Last night two of my colleagues and I ventured over to UCSD to attend a symposium highlighting the achievements of last year's Kyoto Prize Laureates. We had the opportunity to sit in on a lecture presentation being given by Dr. Simon A. Levin, winner of the award in the field of basic sciences. Dr. Levin has been monumentally instrumental in the development of what is known as "spatial ecology". In other words, he uses mathematical approaches (calculations, formulae, etc.) to extrapolate quantitative data about qualitative patterns in an ecological setting. Additionally, he has observed that there is a profound similarity between economic patterns and ecological ones. I won't bore you with all the details of it, because I doubt everyone is as interesting in being a life-long learner like I am.

But I digress...

I realized something about myself last night. I began to understand why it is that I enjoy learning so much. I agree with Adler's quote that I included at the start of this post. For me, learning is just about cramming a lot of book knowledge into my head. It isn't merely about exposing myself to a variety of different ideas and beliefs (although that's certainly a part of it.) Because learning is a way to grow, I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given to grow over the years.

I was always the type of student to request additional assignments from my teachers. Whenever possible, I strived to exceed the standard. Because cystic fibrosis limited me in my ability to attend class regularly, I made a conscious effort to keep up with my studies anyway as a way to demonstrate that who I am doesn't have to be defined in terms of my physical state of being. I devour books. When I find a topic that interests me, I try to learn as much as I can about it. In doing so, I am given a chance to grow not only in intellect, but in character.

I hope I never stop learning and growing. I am so thankful that of all the areas of my life that cystic fibrosis has impacted, my mental capacity has not been one that has been adversely affected. I will never win any academic awards, but I have the reward of knowing that I can continue to learn as long as I live.

***
Current mood: complacent
Current snack: Stroopwafels (thanks Ed!)
Health-o-Meter: 98%
Emotional Weather: clear and sunny

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