Understanding Comes in Stages

In a radio series from the 1940’s, author E.M. Forster stated that the books which truly influence us are the ones we are prepared to read, namely those “which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.” Hence a truly moving reading experience is the culmination of not just what you read but when you read it.

Personally, I love reading with a pen or highlighter on hand. I’m sure I share this sentiment with many others. Navigating books I’ve annotated reminds me of what I learned while reading. Yet there have been countless times I’ve returned to a previously-read passage only to wonder why in the world I highlighted sentence seven and completely left all of paragraph four unmarked. However, now I realize that as I experience more of life (getting to know myself, my neighbors, my career, my friends, my world) I come to see and understand aspects of life very differently.

As just one example, I used to gloss over snippets of javascript or terminal commands deeming them the writings of a foreign language. However, I now scrupulously inspect those snippets for nuggets of knowledge I have not yet discovered.

Seeing, and its ensuing counterpart understanding, come in phases. What you fail to grasp and understand at this point in your development you may later find to be common sense. Be patient. Seeing and understanding come in stages through experience.