My Search for Meaning: From “Knowing” to “Getting” to “Becoming”

When I began college I was under the misunderstanding that my objective was to digest a discrete identifiable quantity of facts.  Once obtained, I would then know all and could share it with the rest of the world.  A few degrees later, two things became apparent: one, at least half of what I learned proved to be wrong or obsolete within seven years, and  two, I was not digesting a set quantity of facts, but was instead learning how to learn.  This became critical when considering the future half-life of my degree-based knowledge that would not sustain me beyond the student loan payoff.  Unless I could find a method of collecting more timely data in an ongoing, as-needed manner, I was in trouble.

The question became the key.  I concluded that the wrong solution to the right question is much better than the right answer to the wrong question.  Asking myself the right question led me to search for appropriate and timely information.  It is not the end, but the process that appears significant.  That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself.  I have spent a great deal of time acquiring information so as to be “knowing.”  Eventually I made the transition to “getting.”  I am now just realizing that in reality the challenge of life is in “becoming.”

In the final scenes of my three-act play, I now possess a radically different focus than at the start.  In our society, being full of knowledge or being full of possessions implies being someone of importance.  I am no one of significance based upon this definition, but rather I am becoming someone.  Becoming involves the process of character development.   Even though the process of acquiring these qualities is similar, the ultimate objective is radically different.  The acquisition of these three does not occur in one deposit but rather in the accumulation of thousands of small, seemingly insignificant, investments over a lifetime.  It requires a willingness to make short-term sacrifices for long-term growth.   Sacrifice is a part of life; it is supposed to be this way and it was designed in from the start.  It’s something to aspire for, not to avoid.  By denying self of minor complaints and willingly and cheerfully exercising patience, the value shift happens.  Too often it seems that we take for granted the miraculous sensory perceptions while worshipping the immediate, the tangible, and the showy.

Have I arrived?  Never.  But, I do not lose hope because “becoming” is a lifelong journey.

Originally posted on September 17, 2011 on