Read, and then Ride

Not the strongest, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change tend to survive. Not just as a species, adaption is our key to even survive at work, home, or for that matter in any environment. Exact coping mechanism depends on the situation. But in general, explanation to a problem always helps; explanations through therapy, through study, or may be just through the bottle! To quote a character from Nolan’s Batman Begins – “you always fear what you don’t understand” – an explanation is simply a good start to figure out how to adapt.

Understanding the cause requires theory, and adequate explanations mandate good theories applied to correct contexts. Without internalizing ideas we can never accurately identify all those correct contexts. Marvin Minsky famously said – “You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way”. Ability to apply the same set of ideas in different contexts, that ‘transfer of learning’ seems like an effective way to reinterpret and internalize ideas in more than one way. In that sense, learning is a process of refining ideas, and accurately identifying all its applications while progressively removing incorrect assumptions. Eventually ideas are a lot like arsenal, they need to be sharpened and our skills determine their best application. This learning is cognitively taxing, and developing those higher levels of cognition sort of takes time.

Reading is definitely a great way to gain exposure to new ideas, but internalizing them requires reflection. We all face slightly different problems and have slightly different assumptions and beliefs about how the world works. So, no matter how good the book, new ideas need to always take root and evolve within our own mental context. Some prefer meditation, but for restless minds it can be some activity — like climbing or hiking — or just plain motorcycling. Someone said — you are never on a motorcycle, you are always a part of it. In that sense, when you are a totally different entity, new ways of interpreting old ideas simply emerge.