I can’t get the idea of being on the edge of understanding, or on the edge of what you know, out of my head. It was a comment that Robert Hass stated in his poetry reading last night that I blogged about before. It seems be the perfect metaphor for life right now.
Well, I guess you could say that it is the perfect metaphor for everyone’s life, because no one truly knows what is ahead in life, so we are all at the edge of what we know. But I think it is particularly relevant to that of someone my age. As a child, I had this sort of idea of where life would take me. Of going to school and making good grades, graduating, getting a scholarship and going to a good college. I had ideas of things other than that, like getting married, working and having kids, but it was all in some far off land from what I knew. I think that the time after graduating from high school, and then for some, being in college as well, is generally a time of being on the edge of understanding. It is this weird space of time where what you used to know is no longer the case and how events will unfold in the future isn’t certain. Everyday, I am further pushing myself up against my edge of understanding to learn more about the things in life I don’t know. Be this simply figuring out what the future holds, or getting a grasp on it.
Apart from that, if that even made any sense, are more literal examples. In my painting class for instance. I love art and I’ve painted since I was two years old. However, I’ve never had an intense painting course like this one, so I constantly find myself on the edge of my current understanding. The good thing about being there though, is the fact, that usually by the end of the day, you’ve pushed your edge of understanding just a little farther. You know more than you did when you walked in the studio that day.
The same with my contemporary American literature class. It drives me up the wall. I wanted to drop it and switch to a different class. It is all about politics, which I hate. Politics are all about opinions and what someone thinks is right verses what someone else thinks. It gives me a headache. However, the thing I think that made me dislike the class from the start, was the fact that it wasn’t my style. It wasn’t the literature that I liked. It wasn’t in my comfort zone. It wasn’t my preference. The political opinions weren’t my own. But what if I only read things I liked? How would I learn about new things? Or more than that, how would I know what I didn’t like if I hadn’t read it? I keep reminding myself that I have to stick with the class because it is on the edge of what I know. The class has a lot of new concepts for me. There is a lot of reading. Half the time, I don’t completely understand what we are talking about in class. But I’m starting to. I’m at the edge of my understanding. The class definitely isn’t my favorite, but I am certain that I will learn from it. Everyday I’m pushing my edge of understanding out a little farther than it was before.