We're All Going to Miss Almost Everything
I have an ongoing list of about 100/150 books I need to read. Mostly from other lists people have made of Books You Have to Read Before You Die, the Most Influential Books You'll Ever Read, Books That Will Change Your Life, and so on. I keep them in a digital checklist and listen to or read them almost every waking minute that I don't have to come up with original content. Driving, lounging, working, cleaning, cooking, literally every moment I don't have to create new thoughts or absorb/interpret the thoughts of people I'm with, I'm digesting books. Right now (to give you an example of how far I've taken it), I'm reading/listening to:
- Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
- Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
- A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin
- Die Empty by Todd Henry
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
And then a friend recommended an article from NPR, which I titled this post after:
It sounds more hopeless and depressing than it is, thanks to the uptick at the end of the article. It was my 10 minute read of inspiration during my morning ritual and does a great job of summarizing how hungry I feel about all the things we could possibly learn, and then puts that hunger in perspective.
It's sad, but it's also ... great, really. Imagine if you'd seen everything good, or if you knew about everything good. Imagine if you really got to all the recordings and books and movies you're "supposed to see." Imagine you got through everybody's list, until everything you hadn't read didn't really need reading. That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze first picked up a violin is so tiny and insignificant that a single human being can gobble all of it in one lifetime. That would make us failures, I think.