Why does a spider put so much work into building a web? The answer is obvious – it makes it much easier to catch a lot of flies. I suppose a spider could hunt using a completely different method. It could stalk and capture its prey, one victim at a time. But, why not cast a wide invisible net if you can?
With this web building approach, the arachnid can sit comfortably in the center of his web and await the arrival of his unsuspecting guests. As the strands of his web vibrate, he is alerted to the presence of a new catch. All he needs to do then is to scurry over, wrap his bounty in a neat package of newly spun silk, and set it aside for later consumption at his leisure. I see learning and the acquisition of knowledge very much the same way.
Many years ago, it occurred to me that my knowledge was growing in a manner similar to how the spiderweb works. Everything I’ve read, and everything I’ve learned, was like a silky strand of knowledge being laid down to create my intellectual spiderweb. This process begins with only a single strand at the very beginning. Then a second strand is added.
Over time, as we continue to learn, more strands keep getting added. We begin with simple words and ideas like mama and papa, and we progressively build from there. Ultimately, our knowledge base becomes more robust and complete. Our personal web of ideas reflects the information we each possess. Then, something magical begins to happen. As we lay down more and more concepts in our minds, there is a greater scaffold on which to lay new strands of information. Therefore, the process gets easier and easier as the web becomes more complex and well-defined.
The connections between data points become stronger, and our ability to understand new things becomes not only more rapid but also more profound.
Finally, we begin to “catch flies.” I think of flies as “big ideas” or concepts. Our intellectual web becomes so robust and comprehensive that as we come in contact with new information and new philosophies, we catch them all at once like a big juicy fly trapped in a spider’s web.
Large quantities of knowledge can come to us with great ease because of this powerful mental web that we have created. It’s a very empowering feeling. New concepts and facts are captured, processed, and integrated with more magnificent facilities. As a simple example, let’s look at learning to count from 1 to 10. In the beginning, it’s a real challenge. This is a major concept for a young mind – assigning a sound or word to a quantity and understanding the ascending value of each word in a specific order. But when we attempt to learn this concept in a foreign language, the process becomes much easier.
We go to school and learn uno, dos, tres rather than one, two, three; but we can learn this much faster because we already have the concept interwoven in our intellectual web. Our comprehension is essentially immediate in terms of the idea – now all we need to do is assign a new sound or word to the numbers. Alphabets work the same way.
All knowledge ultimately works this way. The more you know, the easier it is to obtain new experience in various fields. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence then that the creators of the Internet chose to call it the World Wide Web.
So, take some time to think about your knowledge base as an ever-growing spiderweb. Realize that you’re becoming more and more capable of acquiring and assimilating a greater volume of information as you continue to learn and grow mentally. This is an empowering notion.
The more you learn, the easier it becomes to learn. Our ability to assimilate new ideas is potentially infinite. So, keep laying down as many strands as you can. Make your intellectual web as beautiful, expansive, and complex as you are possibly able. It’s a phenomenal process and one which should be never-ending.