Taking Another Proverbial First Step

Hey, folks. Yesterday’s Daily Prompt was to rewrite your very first post, armed with a year’s worth of blogging experience. For reference, here’s the original. Hmmm, should be interesting…

In retrospect, I can totally believe I spent years without a personal blog. It wasn’t so much an oversight as it was a method of avoidance. Writing is second nature to me, but social interaction – even via the internet – certainly isn’t. As an introvert who leads often leads a life of guarded solitude, baring my soul and personal views to complete strangers is quite difficult. I’m still working on it.

A polymath is a person whose expertise spans several and varied subjects. It is something that I aspire to be, and I named the blog Polymathically as a reflection of that ambition. I’m not arrogant enough to believe I’ve reached the lofty heights of Galileo or da Vinci, but I believe it’s something to strive for. I believe that cultivating one’s mind, skills, and interests is absolutely necessary for living fully. I was inspired by Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier and the similarities between polymathic traits and the concept of sprezzatura. It’s the reason why the phrase “Renaissance Man” and polymathy are, despite technical differences, essentially synonymous in popular culture.

Upon further reflection, I’ve also been heavily influenced by Nietzsche. Most people associate him with the idea that life is inherently pointless, and therefore not worth living. Anyone who’s actually read his work will tell you otherwise; life is indeed pointless, but that doesn’t prevent individuals from determining how they live it. We’re all mortal and stuck here together, so why not make this situation as awesome as we can? Don’t know about you, but that’s an idea I can get behind. The same goes for the Übermensch, a concept in which a person can reject society’s values and morals and create their own. It’s slippery, potentially dangerous slope (it was certainly co-opted in the worst ways in the 20th Century), but I believe that it’s a goal to which anyone can – and should – aspire.

Especially you.

Think about it. In our society, there’s a pervasive belief that someone can only be interested in subjects based solely on his or her personality, aptitude, gender, sexuality, political leanings, potential employment, etc. The implications aren’t pretty, and we’re bombarded with such expectations on a daily basis. But if you take a step back, you’ll realize how little of that actually matters. Will being left or right-brained really affect what you’re passionate about? Why should a person’s sex stir up so many taboos and double standards? Don’t limit yourself to others’ categories. You should figure it out yourself, the good old-fashioned way. Try something new, even if you fail miserably at first. Read a book. Learn another language or how to play an instrument. Climb mountains. Travel somewhere. Experience another culture. Ask questions. Do something, anything to push yourself just a little bit further. You’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of.

…Just keep it keep it sane and legal. Common sense is a wonderful thing.

I’ve applied this ideal to my own life. My curiosity and love of exploration are among my core traits. If something catches my eye, I will learn everything I can about it. The origin, functionality, significance, and everything else. The subject doesn’t matter. As a result, this blog is an eclectic blend of literature, photography, travel, science, film, video games, anime, music, and countless others. I regularly read about the astronomy, physics, biology, geology, mythology, history, psychology, and critical theory. I also love traveling, so expect plenty of excellent (and judging by the readership, spotlight-stealing) shots taken throughout my travels. My goal isn’t just to satisfy my own wonder, but to inspire yours.

Stay curious, folks.

An Unknown Legacy

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about legacy. As in, the lasting effect you have on the world. The funny thing about building a legacy is that – much like any goal or ambition – it changes over time. My overall goal has always been to change the world in a  drastic, all-encompassing way. But the details and methods used to reach it are…muddled. Not many years ago, I would have taken the most direct route and opted for warfare. I grew up reading about the lives of guys like Alexander The Great, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and the impact they had on the development of human civilization. Let’s face it: A lot of humanity’s technological developments were the result of some kind of conflict. The borders and countries we have today aren’t the result of just treaties and negotiations; wars were fought and countless lives were lost in the process. You think 21st century protests are bad? Try reading up on the French Revolution; those people changed things the hard, bloody way. Game of Thrones has nothing on what went down in medieval times. The development of the computer and literally every electronic device you’re using right now? You can thank Alan Turing for laying the groundwork, and for his efforts during World War II. NASA and moon landing? We got there based on rocket technology from the aforementioned conflict, and as the result of a little thing called the Cold War.

So yeah, warfare is kind of important.

It took me years to realize that it wasn’t worth it, though. It’s too messy, complicated, and utterly devastating. I love strategy and the thrill of competition, but taking over a country – let alone the entire world – would be a huge moral and logistical nightmare. I used to justify it by saying that, while the actions and decisions taken were horrifying, at least the people who made them would be remembered. Incredibly shortsighted and selfish, I know. But if I’m going down in history, I’d rather it be for doing something huge and worthwhile without violence. I wish I could be one of those old-time explorers who ventured into the unmapped jungles and islands, or climbed mountains just because they were there. Someone like Edmund Hillary, for example. I’d like to discover some new species, map out the ocean floor, or perhaps develop a new kind of synthetic material. Maybe invent something important, like an engine that doesn’t run on fossil fuels, or a seismometer that provides more of a warning time. I’d want to retire in a nice, secluded house with a massive library, where students and weary travelers could come seeking stories and insight. I want to be remembered for doing something that could change everything, and doing so in a constructive, positive way.

If I can’t accomplish that, then I’d at least want to be cherished as a famous author. Wishful thinking, isn’t it?