Every day each human being on earth processes or filters immeasurable amounts of information. Some of this information comes from the media: our televisions, newspapers, radios, internet, podcasts, etc. etc. etc. Some comes from books. And some comes from the natural world. What do you pay attention to? What do you ignore? And what do you count as information?
I count all media as a form of information. I think there is a difference between information and knowledge, and I think there is also a difference between knowledge and wisdom.
I include under the category of media all TV shows and advertising. In fact these might be the most insidious forms of information because we absorb them and as we absorb they inform us of how life is supposed to be lived. As a child I didn’t question these things. Life was white and middle-class. Mothers enjoyed housework. Fathers enjoyed coming home to find dinner on the table. Children went to their parents for advice. There was no problem that could not be solved in thirty minutes. We all worshiped the same god. I absorbed all this from TV and advertising, because it was all that I saw. The world of television seemed more real than my own world, but I found something different in the woods behind our house.
This was where I went to escape and to be alone and to read and build forts. As a child I didn’t understand how fortunate I was to have a safe natural area right in my backyard. I didn’t know that many people did not have such a refuge.
In the woods I absorbed different sorts of information. I absorbed smells and observed crayfish and bugs and frogs. I invented games and people and made up stories which I acted out. I met my writer self down in the woods. I met my intuition. I learned to listen to a quieter sort of information than what the media delivered. Or what I heard in school. In the woods things made more sense than in the world of television or people. I’m grateful that I had access to that safe space, grateful for the filter the natural world gave me to sort through the offerings of the human world. The human world was chaotic to me.
That information gained in the woods is still there. That intuition. That ability to find patterns. I’ve lived my life ignoring a great deal of the information that comes from the sources that scream at me the loudest. I believe it is the path of a writer to listen and to sort and to not be led like a sheep by the many voices. I believe it is the path of a writer to be careful regarding the intake. Taking care with intake is the first step to taking care of what we can offer. Offer your best. Best in, best out. It’s as simple as that.