I am studying models of information seeking in school right now, and although these theoretical models vary wildly in their details, what they all agree on is this:
The seeking, acquiring and internalizing of new knowledge is a deeply emotional, and emotionally fraught, process. We feel it, in our bodies and our souls, and there is always a point in the process that’s really scary. Every new piece of understanding has the potential to entirely upset The World As We Know It, and we keep diving into that rift anyway. Or don’t.
It is at that moment, when we’re the most vulnerable, when we hold the power to change the world in our hands, an intervention – a guiding voice, a sympathetic ear, a compelling story, a moment of silence inviting clarity, an invoked memory, an unexpected new experience – has tremendous power.
This is why I do the work that I do. Both as an artist, and as a librarian. We are nothing more than the sum total of what we’ve become anew each time we’ve dived into that rift, and we owe it to ourselves and each other to be mindful of how we shape those moments of intervention in the depths of fear.
On this morning, when two ancient and lovely cities, centers of art and learning for centuries, are picking up the pieces, the only weapon against hopelessness I have is to remember. Remember that every interaction is a chance. A chance to change the world.
Oh come over here, kid,
we’ve got all these books to read,
With the turtles and frogs, cats and dogs
who civilize the centuries,
And in a world that’s angry, cruel and furious,
There’s this monkey who’s just curious,
Floating high above a park with bright balloons.