Why Self-Reflection and Curiosity Support Intellectual Growth

From a life-long learner and recovering perfectionist.

Knowledge is slippery and cannot be held in the palms of our hands

As a life-long learner and recovering perfectionist, I feel pulled between wanting to attain some high level of knowing as well as to be in a state of constant learning.

I want to hold knowledge in the palms of my hands. To know. To posses knowledge.

And also to go wandering through new ideas. Explore. Dabble. Stretch.

Over the past month, I have attended three conferences, two where I was presenting about work with elders and one I was attending as a learner (thank you to the Center for Cultural Innovation for the CALI grant). I came home with a notebook filled with ideas, quotes, and resources.

Thinking back over the experiences, the thing I was most excited about was a session where two theories I wholeheartedly espouse were discussed and critiqued. It was refreshing to be in a room where critical inquiry was celebrated as an important part of intellectual growth. The session was not meant to tear theories apart or detach clinicians from their practices, but rather to encourage ongoing evolution of theory and practice.

“What does it mean?” color and writing over customs declaration form in my art journal.

I also took time to create art, either in the sessions or afterwards. Synthesizing the words and content. Finding ways to make the information my own. Translating it into my world with images, texture, and color. I went for long walks, exploring Toronto and Ottawa and taking the long way back to public transportation in San Francisco. These walks gave me space to find my own ideas and opinions about the information I’d been absorbing all day. I spent time each evening flipping through my art journal, adding color. Looking. Running my fingertips over waxy pigment and smearing ink. Looking again.

And maybe that’s where we hold knowledge…not in the palms of our hands, not as an end-point; we hold knowledge in this moment or under the tips of our fingers. If we grasp, it slips away. And if we grasp, we are not able to let the knowledge evolve.

“This is, this is this is”

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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