Living the interested life


When you enter the wonder-world of the insects, I have discovered, your adventures are limited largely by the extent of your knowledge. You make progress by the extent of your knowledge. You make progress in exploring this world on two legs: interest and knowledge. If you are interested but don’t know what to look for, you are like a one-legged man and hobble along getting only half the fun you might. Even the commonest cricket or katydid, if you learn enough of its life and habits, becomes intensely interesting.

The Boys’ Book of Insects by Edwin Way Teale (this book is a rare find, so I didn’t bother to link it at Amazon- there is, however, a reprint of Teale’s “Insect Life,” a booklet he wrote for the Boy Scouts of America’s Merit Badge program).

That reminded me a bit of the story of Eyes and No Eyes by Dr. John Aiken and Mrs. Anna Letitia Barbauld- in the tale two boys, Robert and William, each go on a walk about, and their teacher asks them each where they have been and what they have seen. One says he has seen nothing and it was all very dull, and the other waxes on for several pages about all the interesting things he has seen. The story ends with this moral as voiced by their teacher:

one man walks through the world with his eyes open, and
another with them shut; and upon this difference depends all the
superiority of knowledge the one acquires above the other. I have
known sailors, who had been in all the quarters of the world, and
could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling-houses they
frequented in different ports, and the price and quality of the liquor.
On the other hand, a Franklin could not cross the Channel, without
making some observations useful to mankind. While many a vacant,
thoughtless youth is whirled throughout Europe without gaining
a single idea worth crossing a street for, the observing eye and
inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight in every
ramble in town or country. Do _you_, then, William, continue to
make use of your eyes; and _you_, Robert, learn that eyes were
given you to use.

Are your eyes open?  Are you interested in something new?  Is there something you’ve tried to learn about in the last year that you weren’t interested in, or were not even aware of before?   Do you know more or less than you did five years ago?  Have your windows to the world opened wider, or become narrower?


More thoughts along these lines in the post Live an Interested Life.

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