On Approaching New Ideas and Circumstances

Image Credit: pantsareoverrated.com

Image Credit: pantsareoverrated.com

People enter college with one thing in mind: their major (and that’s usually the best case scenario).  Most people could care less about their general education classes.  After all, “why should I care for calculus?  I’m an art major.”  Or, “Bach?  I know nothing about Baroque music nor care to know.  I’m a doctor, Jim, not a musician!”

While no one actually asks those rhetorical questions to their professors, my music history professor had an answer to the skepticism: “You like what you know.  The more you know, the more you like.”

While the amount of wit and play on words may make some roll their eyes, there’s a lot of truth behind that idea.  It’s rather basic, actually.  When you were a kid, did you think spaghetti was repulsive because they looked like worms?  Or did you think wine would be really sweet because it looked like grape juice?  When we come across something new and different, we humans try to put familiar onto the unfamiliar—for better and for worse.  We push through new ideas by creating analogies.  “Life is like a box of chocolates.”  “You were as quiet as a mouse.”  “Our relationship is finally starting to thaw.”

But what if you’ve never had a box of chocolates before?  What if you’ve never seen a mouse?  What if you’ve never experienced ice thawing?  No matter what, our brains will find an analogy to help better understand the unknown—and it could be a rather detrimental comparison.  What if we never ate spaghetti because we thought they’d rile up in your mouth like worms?  That would be less than fortunate, seeing how it’s a wonderful dish!

The best remedy to understanding the unknown is experiencing it.  One can appreciate anything better by stepping into the uncomfortable.  For example, I used to think dance music was rather frivolous, monotonous and that anyone could do it.  However, after taking classes in Pro Tools and writing some dubstep pieces, I have a new appreciation for it.  I can listen to electronic sounds and enjoy the groove—something I could never do months ago.  Granted, that doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and by Skillrex CDs.  It still isn’t the bee’s knees for me.  Plus, I still have my bias towards folk, progressive rock, and classical music.  However, I can now dig electronic music—more, at least.

Another disclaimer: this isn’t an encouragement to revive the #yolo culture.  One shouldn’t jump into the unknown without considering the ramifications.  I’m not suggesting that everyone take a bottle of ambient and stay awake “just to experience it.”  Never What You Think has and always will support smart choices.

All fine print aside, I encourage you all to push your limits and explore the unknown.  It’s important that we put our false analogies and made-up ideas of the foreign—concocted by fear—to the side and step into new situations willing to understand and appreciate.  You may not care for Bach at the end of the exploration; you may not see the beauty of Calculus; you may not find any relevancy between the unwalked path and your own, but my professor’s words hold true.  You like what you know; the more you know, the more you like.

About Jonathan Seligman

Jon is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of NWYT. While his main profession is in education/music/history, he has a deep passion for philosophy, theology, ice cream, and everything else that life has to offer. See All of Jon's Posts

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