I’m on holiday this week, skiing in Finland, so instead of the usual fare, i present a five part series on ‘the rebirth of knowledge’. It’s a light hearted look at how our relationship with knowledge is changing: from something that we need to know, to something that we just know how to find out. Today: discovery.
I’m literally deluged with ways to navigate the mountain: piste maps, signposts, print outs from the chalet and an App for my phone. Which just goes to make it all the more remarkable that i managed to get myself quite so lost quite so fast, but i blame it on the Finnish for ‘left’. “Go left at the road”, said the girl in the bar, signing me towards the secret trail, the special route that the guides had assured me existed and assured me was worth the search. “Left at the road” took me past some chalets, round a small lake and, finally, to a road that showed on no map at all.
Somehow they’d managed to move the mountain: i know, i didn’t know that the Finns had it in them either, but it turns out that they’re not just good at hunting reindeer and ice fishing, turns out that massive environmental engineering projects are a strength too. I just can’t see how else i had ended up around 90 degrees out from where i intended to be, with no possibility of skiing out.
A lengthy trek later, through some worryingly deep snow, over a road, through a car park and eventually back to the pistes, i pondered on discovery. The frustration i felt at being lost had somehow been replaced by elation as finding myself again. And elation at doing it all without any help from the multitudinous maps and devices. No pain, no gain, as they say and, in this case, there was an element of truth.
The thing about discovery is that you have to really do it for yourself. It’s all very well me telling you how something works, but it’s as nothing compared to the delight at figuring something out for yourself. Just think how annoying it is when someone else completes your jigsaw.
We spend a lot of our lives in pursuit of knowledge, but sometimes the journey is the thing: it’s not knowing it that counts, it’s how you found it in the first place. Sometimes the learning is in the discovery.