Imagine your mind is a room and everything you know is scattered on the floor. Tens of books lying here and there, all open. You start wandering about, glimpsing sentences as you pass them by. It’s amusing at first, you reminisce on the first challenging book you encountered, the few that may have altered the course of your life and the many you had read but soon forgot. Yet the more you walk, the more it becomes overwhelming. Will all these books ever be more than mere fragments in the recesses of your mind? Surely some might make their way to the surface of your consciousness. But how many would have made a difference if they had indeed surfaced, and yet when the moment of need arose, they were nowhere to be found by your working memory?
In everything we see, read, hear and come to know, its level of impact often seems to depend on what already exists in our minds, rather than what the object of our focus projects. This leads us to a further implication that, no matter what form the object takes, is shaped or presented, if the viewer’s mind is not prepared, intellectually equipped or previously exposed, the message will not be fully understood or clearly delivered.
For a deeper level of learning to occur, it seems that some connection must be cast from the old to the new. It’s as if your brain is telling you, “If you ever want to remember this thought again, anchor it to an existing train of thought (neural path) you’re well acquainted with.”
Many times, the ideas you fully digest are only the ones that illuminate what was already present in your mind; they may add new insights, shine on new perspectives, build upon existing ideas, but almost never implant an idea from scratch. If what you see, hear or read is completely new to you or just on the fly, it will not have a lasting effect on you, unless it fuels your emotions, is expressed in detail or framed within a context. That’s why all the fleeting content you consume on social media doesn’t really last more than a day in your head, and dare I say perhaps a lot content on the internet. You need to be continually or intensely exposed to something for it to sink in, be remembered and then acted upon. The effect of hours of lectures are much more than the quotes they are summarized in. The effect of days reading and seeking your teeth into a book if far more effective than reading 10 random blog articles online. A person reading merely the summary or compilation will not be nearly as deeply affected as the person who supposedly “lived” or “experienced” the journey of realization.
Note: This is an open post I will keep going back to and expanding in terms of ideas.
Here are some more questions I have yet to explore:
- Why do we forget what we read?
- Or selectively remember ideas we’ve been exposed to?
- What are the implications upon knowledge of something?
- How do people who read books fast learn the new ideas in such a short period of time?
- What’s the point of reading a book a week if there wasn’t enough time for the ideas to sink in?
Share your thoughts