The Pursuit of Self Education

When was it that we decided learning could only be done in schools? When did we become complacent with our knowledge/ability to learn?

I have been fairly consistent in pursuing my right to continue learning, even though I refuse to take part in the current education system. There is so much information out there, and in this age it is possible to find information on nearly anything in mere moments. I am partial to physical books, however I find the internet remarkable.

I have been at a loss for words lately, which means this blog is the first thing to lose engagement. I call this time of year my hibernation period, in part because this is the time I ingest information much more than I bring any new ideas and/or content to the world.

I’m still here, I’m just pursuing my Life education, which I find much more important than any accolades, certificates, or diplomas.

Does anyone else feel the urge to consume more information at certain times of year, or periods of life? If I starting writing about what I decided to learn every few days, would anyone be interested? Would anyone join me in this pursuit?

I’m currently reading a book I bought at a thrift store a while back for 50 cents. It’s titled, The Best American Science and Nature Writing by various scientists and academics. While the book is from the year 2005, I’ve learned a lot about the development of science, through not only the discoveries themselves, but also the political and social background of scientific advancement. It was a book I was not overly excited to pick up, however, I have been pleasantly surprised by how interesting most of these writings actually are. I may have to look for more current versions of the series after I finish this one.

So, here we are in a world full of information, what are we going to do with that luxury?

Top 5 Reading Picks for 2020

So I decided, because reading is such a big part of my personal development, that I’d share some of my favorites, and a few that I think would be fitting for this whirlwind year.

  1. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World is a novel that I personally think everyone should read. I’ve read it three times now, and am seriously considering reading it again in 2020. It is a dystopian fiction, but it is so relevant, and thought-provoking. What started for me as a personal choice English assignment became a mind altering read, that made me fall in love with Aldous Huxley as a writer. While I found that the first 50 pages or so, were hard to get through, I ultimately couldn’t put it down. Going into a utopian society where people are made for specific roles, and everyone is conditioned to become exactly what is expected of them. One man, comes to recognize individuality and the issues with the current system. What was meant to be perfect, becomes very much the opposite. Being written in 1931, this book brings a new light to our modern world, and genuinely makes you question where we are headed. Highly recommend.

2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” 

If you enjoy biographies, and adventurous spirits, there is no better book than Into the Wild. Jon Krakauer, takes the time to get to know the subject, Christopher McCandless, like no other. Even though the tale ends in tragedy, the inspiration drawn from the life of a true idealist/adventurer/lover of life is incomparable to any other book I’ve read. This is another book I’ve read over and over again throughout my life, when I need to remember who I am, and what my dreams are, I always come back to this. We can all take something from McCandless’ life and death, a true tale of embracing what the world has to offer, and never looking back.

3. A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin

“In people like us, the craving is as strong as the craving for food or water, the yearning for touch or light or love. I was looking for something–a diversion, an occupation, an unwavering force–that would elevate me, that would lift me out of the melancholy dissection of my own interior geography that otherwise would have consumed me pitilessly, as it had my father. I wanted to fly above myself– if only for a few hours–and look down in tranquility upon my life.” 

Now, this is a book I picked up by chance on a sales rack at Barnes & Noble, it sat on my shelf for months, before I decided to give it a shot. Wow, am I glad that I did. It is a book about life, about how an analytical, mathematical mind is plagued with unanswered questions. This is one you really have to read in order to understand, anything I say about it will do it no justice. I love the different perspectives, the writing style, the focus on family but also pain and the need to understand loved ones. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

“But at times I wondered if I had not come a long way only to find that what I really sought was something I had left behind.” 

Krakauer again. To be honest, he is just one of my favorite authors, his writing style is captivating, and this book in particular is a first hand account, which makes the book all the more interesting. Now this book made me cry, several times, so if you aren’t interested in getting emotionally encapsulated, don’t read this one. This book is overall about climbing Everest, about disaster striking, and about the drive that brings people up one of the largest mountains in the world. However, it is about so much more, and I think anyone can draw personal correlations to this book, all the while gaining a perspective completely unique. The struggle that is human kinds desire to achieve the unachievable, and how that brings people to life and death situations. Most importantly though, it’s about how you come out on the other side, what you’ve gained, and what you’ve lost. An amazing read.

5. Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts

“I am overwhelmed by the appalling strangeness and intricacy of the curiously tangled knot of life.”

Everett Ruess

I am currently reading this book, and I can say that I’ve been having a hard time getting through the second half. However, the first portion of the book was completely captivating, hence it’s place on this list. I expect you’ve noticed a theme of biographical non-fiction on this list, but I find it is a genre I hold a lot of interest in. Learning from other people, from dreamers, wanderers, vagabonds, it’s all so fascinating to me. Everett Ruess, is no doubt flawed, living through the Great Depression and taking his parents kindness for granted. However, if a bit selfish, he chose to focus on what mattered to him, focused on art, experience, and a life of adventure. In his short life, he made multiple trips across the American West, and spent every moment searching for beauty. If you like mysteries as well you may like this book, as the second half is all about the search for Everett, and his unsolved disappearance.