To Be, Or Not To Be Idle

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The other day, I was talking to a good friend of mine and he asked, “How can I become a better writer?” I suddenly had a flash back to two semesters ago when I was in my business writing class. Every single day, before my professor started the class discussion, she would ask us:

“What have you guys read this week?”

And after a few mumbled replies, she proceeded to repeat the same thing she lectured every class about how it is important to read and be exposed to more vocabulary in order to become a great writer. And initially I thought yes reading helps, but to what extent?

And that’s when I realized: I was merely fostering this idle status.

To clarify my thoughts, imagine our brain. It is filled with a vast amount of knowledge from everything we have learned and taken in throughout the years. However, I believe this knowledge can be divided into active and inactive knowledge.

The active knowledge contains everything we repeatedly practice. An accountant’s knowledge of taxes and accounting policies remains active. A doctor’s knowledge of illnesses remains active. The geometry learned back in the day, for many, is inactive. Why? Unless we are trying to become mathematicians, or just love doing geometry every day, we simply are not actively trying to refresh our minds with the information.

It is idle.

Now what my business writing professor kept repeating every single class made a little more sense (perhaps repetition was her way of making her words become active in the minds of us, college students).

We see, but we don’t read. We skim, but we don’t analyze. We hear, but we don’t listen. Information constantly flows into our minds but we choose to send it to the inactive side. It’s an open application in our minds that we have chosen to minimize. It is present. It is running. It has the potential to be used.

So we, ourselves, have to make the conscientious decision to stop minimizing, to stop idling.

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