The Pursuit of Knowledge

Recently, Spotify suggested that I listen to Zack Hemsey’s album “Nomad“.

I have listened to it every day since.

Hemsey’s lyrics are very meaningful and his delivery is captivating. I highly recommend that you check out his album, but want to share the song “The Pursuit of Knowledge” with you.

Although most lyrics can be interpreted differently, I think Hemsey beautifully illustrates the regrets that come from the exclusive pursuit of knowledge.

Set aside five minutes of undisrupted time, plug in your headphones and listen to this song, while reading the lyrics. It will be worth your time:

The sun was scattered through the colored glass
The floor was stained as light enveloped in a bath
And shadows on the wall from piles of books were cast
With rows that formed an aisle in through which I passed
These the quarters of a recluse whom I’d come to ask
About the origin of wisdom he was said to have
To get the story of “the man who knows more than any”, or so I read
He welcomed me to sit with affection and then he said:
“Since I was seven I’ve traveled the globe through words
Set on a mission to devour all I could learn
I’ve studied the writings of the greatest minds you’ve heard
Discovered the tenets that the finest thinkers observed
The more I gained, the more that I sought to earn
The more I attained, the hotter the fire burned
With every book I finished another was there to serve
For every text I read there were pages still left to turn
I’ve learned from all the migrants and drifters to whom I’d listen
Philosophers and soldiers whose knowledge I would solicit
I know histories of nations I’ll never have chance to visit
Complexities of science and language with great precision
But in the end I’ve seen nothing of what’s been given
This life that I’ve employed, while I love it, it has its limits
The failing I regret, though it’s painful, I must admit it
For everything I know of this world, I never lived it”

A silence hung for a moment’s thought
As echoes from the room decayed and tapered off
And there we sat reflecting, was it all for naught?
Until I spoke in earnest with this brief remark
I said that “while it’s evident your knowledge is rivaled by much shrewdness
I’ve never met a man with such wisdom who’s so foolish”
Then he grinned and he chuckled and asked if I
Would speak on what I’d seen through my travels, so I replied:
“I’ve seen the treasure that waits for a man to find
I’ve seen the consequence when the sun and the moon combine
I’ve seen the peaks of mountains that reach out and touch the sky
The struggle to survive and the desert where dreams have died
I’ve seen the best and the worst that we try to hide
The salt of the earth and the evil of humankind
I’ve seen the wrecked and ravaged and scavengers rummage through debris
And those that searched in hope, finding meaning where none once used to be
And some that stormed the beaches
Some that pledged allegiance
Some that scorched the earth for motives that they don’t agree with
Seen some get lost among the current of their grievance
While the tide of death and birth left some speechless
I’ve seen love bring some to their knees
And some lift hearts when they smile for no reason
I’ve seen fairytale endings to believe in
And now I see a man who’d see the same if he’d but seize it.”

Source: Musixmatch

Knowledge Must Lead to Action

“Knowledge is only valuable when it leads to taking action on an idea.”

Maria Aldrey, How to Build a Second Brain in Notion

We have more access to knowledge than ever before.

What once was the library of Alexandria is now at our fingertips thousandfold.

We can read any book, listen to any podcast and watch any movie we want with the click of a button and at menial cost.

But knowledge is not the same as wisdom.

Knowledge is knowing.
Wisdom is doing.

We don’t admire wise men for their knowledge.

We admire them for their actions.

In your journey towards a more meaningful life, let this guide you. Look for information that facilitates action. Don’t get lost in the ocean of information or in the pursuit of more knowledge.

Knowledge in itself won’t help you.

Only right action will.

Modern Bread and Games

In ancient Rome emperors tried to win the approval of the public with food and entertainment.

Today, this idea has evolved.

You are being addicted to food by the high amount of sugar in it, so you can’t stop eating it.
You are being addicted to the entertainment you consume by the way it is designed, so you can’t stop consuming it.
You are being addicted to comfort by the conveniences you have, so you try to avoid difficulty.

In contrast to ancient Rome no emperor tries to win your approval. You decide to eat that food, consume that entertainment and avoid difficulty yourself.

You make these choices.

Thus, it’s your responsibility to resist these addictions.

If you don’t…
… the food you eat will make you fat, sick and live a shorter life.
… the entertainment you consume will make you waste your time.
… the comfort you seek will make you weak.

If you do…
… you’ll be fit, healthy and attractive.
… you’ll be productive, creative and proud.
… you’ll be stronger, tougher and better.

The modern challenge is to resist these addiction to live a better life.

Less is More

Conventional wisdom suggests more is more.

If we lack results, we ought to work on more.
If we are unhappy, we ought to own more.
If we are bored, we ought to experience more.

What if, instead of…

…working on more, we work on less and focus on what is important?
… buying more, we appreciate what we have and develop gratitude?
… trying to escape boredom, we sit with it and examine it?

Doing less, buying less and experiencing less can lead to more.

More work that matters.
More satisfaction and happiness.
More self-awareness and tranquility.

Differentiate between meaningful and meaningless work.
Cultivate gratitude and self-respect.
Embrace boredom and learn from it.

Do less, be more.

Dealing with Setbacks

Whenever I encounter setbacks, feel frustrated or discouraged I turn to a specific page out of Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.

The writing on this page reminds me that whatever I’m going through is temporary, that the pursuit of excellence is difficult and that I shouldn’t beat myself up for small bumps in the road.

Whenever you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope this helps you as well:

“Dealing with the temporary frustration of not making progress is an integral part of the path towards excellence. …
If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it.
In fact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unnecessary frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure.
Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process.
The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home. A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. … Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise.
And accept that quality long-term results, require quality long-term focus. No emotion. No drama. No beating yourself up over small bumps in the road.
Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process. This is especially important because you are going to spend far more time on the actual journey than with those all too brief moments of triumph at the end.
Certainly celebrate the moments of triumph when they occur. More importantly, learn from defeats when they happen. In fact, if you are not encountering defeat on a fairly regular basis, you are not trying hard enough.
And absolutely refuse to accept less than your best.”

Christopher Summer, Tools of Titans

This is an edited version out of the book for better readability and understanding.

The Stop-Start-Method

can improve the world.

You can stop doing the things that are wrong.

These are things you shouldn’t be doing. Wasting time, eating unhealthy food or being mean towards other people.

Additionally, you can also start doing the things that are good.

These are things that you should be doing. Using your time productively, eating healthy food and addressing problems that you avoid.

You can stop doing what’s wrong and start doing what’s good.