For the love of knowledge

Hit and Miss #167

Shortly after I sent it, the title of last week’s newsletter took on new significance.

I wrote “Trivial links” to bring together some different pieces that’d caught my eye over the week before, as I often try to do with this newsletter.

Shortly after I sent it, news broke that Alex Trebek had died.

Now, I should note that I never watched much Jeopardy! and so don’t have a deep connection to Trebek. But it was immediately clear, reading the news and Twitter, that so, so many people felt a great appreciation for the man and the show.

As I read some of that coverage—obituaries and remembrances are a fascinating genre—I came to appreciate Trebek. From everything I’ve heard, he seems to have been an affable (if often deadpan) fellow, with a deep love of knowledge. One thread in particular spoke to me, by Danielle Lussier, on a pivotal moment during Trebek’s time at the University of Ottawa.

My appreciation for Trebek comes from our shared love for learning, for the abiding belief that our lives might be made better by the accumulation of countless pieces of knowledge—of trivia. And I realized that, while Trebek may not have inspired this love in me as he did in so many others, certainly I can think of some people who did, who do.

My Oma, for one. She’s always been one to share interesting tidbits. I remember her telling me she’d once taken out a book on the British monarchy, just to pore over the lineages and realize other historical perspectives along the way. Listening to the classical music station or reading the paper, too, often yields stories worth sharing. Or, more recently, she turns to Google to investigate topics of interest, learning through the web. I’m sure that her love for learning rubbed off on me.

A love for learning takes nurturing—it isn’t always natural! And it can be uncomfortable at times, depending on what you learn. It can bring apparently irreconcilable ideas together, forcing an eventual reckoning and decision (or, accepting that you’ll always wallow in nuance). But all this can be rewarding—just as stretching the body is worth it, so too with the mind.

I’m glad Alex Trebek inspired and nurtured this love for so many. And I’d hope that most everyone has the chance to be so inspired by someone in their lives. Maybe you’re that inspiration for another—take heart if so, and share freely of your own tidbits, no matter how inane they may seem, so that we can carry on that beautiful mission. All the best for the week ahead—may yours feature learning and sharing!