The Delightful Unknown
"Let no one be discouraged by the thought of how much there is to learn. Looking back upon nearly thirty years of gardening (the earlier part of it groping ignorance with scant of help), I can remember no part of it that was not full of pleasure and encouragement. For the first steps are steps into a delightful Unknown, the first successes are victories all the happier for being scarcely expected and with the growing knowledge comes the widening outlook, and the comforting sense of an ever-increasing gain of critical appreciation. Each new step becomes a little surer, and each new grasp a little firmer, till, little by little, comes the power of intelligent combination, the nearest thing we can know to the mighty force of creation."
Gertrude Jekyll / On Gardening: Gardening Credo
My time in Delaware has been full of moments in which I feel overwhelmed by how much I want to learn. I have a stack of 23 books in my room (no joke, I counted), and I often feel like I have restless body syndrome. There are so many gardens to see, so many museums to visit, so many restaurants to try, so many cities to visit, so many people to meet, and so many new skills I want to learn at work. I often find myself sitting on my bed with 4 books in my lap because I cannot pick which one I should start, while at the same time day dreaming of all the places I want to go. Its the curse of opportunity, and I wish there was medication for it.
Two weeks ago I was on a plane home for a close friend's wedding, and I decided to only bring one book -- Gertrude Jeykll's On Gardening. She was an English painter whose eye sight became so poor she could no longer paint. So instead of mourning the loss, she took her talents and applied them to the garden, something she could infuse with her artistic vision even without the greatest eye sight. She is most remembered for her writing on the use of color in the perennial border, but I think her wise words can be applied to all facets of life.
"Let no one be discouraged by the thought of how much there is to learn." I re-read those words about 14 times, it was one of those light bulbs moments that alters the way you have been seeing something. We will not ever be able to see everything. We will never be able to know everything. But that is not the point is it? I think the most intelligent people are those people who stay infinitely curious, knowing that they will never know all the answers while at the same time not letting that stop them from diving head first into life and all the wonder it holds for us. I want to enjoy nights when I get to drive to the grocery store as the sun is setting as much as I enjoy visiting a new city, because there are valuable memories and knowledge held in the most ordinary of experiences. This is my time of the "delightful unknown." A weird mash up of not knowing anything, yet having what feels like the world at my finger tips. It's freeing to know I can not know it all, because then I no longer fear what I might miss. Instead, I must enjoy those little victories which only come from those first steps into the delightful unknown.
Gertrude, I feel as if we are kindred spirits.