Tomorrow is Leif Erikson Day and I’m setting aside a bit of time to remember the vagabond Norwegian explorer. Arguably, Erikson and his band stumbled upon America nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus did. I use the word “discover” in a limited, personal sense regarding Leif Erikson, because there were already millions of people living in North America at the time.
The fact of the matter about discovery is that many of our own, but not all, of our personal revelations and discoveries have been known by others, all along. Although people already inhabited America, Erikson’s crew knew they had found land that had never been visited by Vikings until he had. They also had to search for ways to sustain themselves with the local flora and fauna on the land Erikson named “Vinland”. Basically, they had gained knowledge of the place, then the explorers had to learn to do new things.
“Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”–Oscar Wilde
Life is a series of discoveries. With navigation provided by our parents, guardians, teachers, and peers, we stumble upon our life skills and ways to think. On the physical scale, we first discover the home and area around it. We expand our horizons when our guardians take us away from home. Later, our discoveries are in the classroom as we discover ways to learn about concepts and social norms. On and on it goes. If the process of discovery is not discouraged we might go on to discover causes and changes that have previously gone unnoticed by mainstream society.
“Everybody is in a hurry to decode you in a certain way, and then they expect you to adhere to their definition. How can they possibly do that when you yourself are finding it hard to discover yourself?”–Indian actor and Hindi soap opera star, Sushant Singh Rajput
Rajput was right. Others judge us based on outward appearances, and we conform to those value judgments to a certain degree. Yet, during our introspective moments, we engage in a journey of personal discovery. Early on, we discover that we have much deeper qualities than other people give us credit for. Part of what makes life meaningful is the process of personal discovery that continues throughout our lives.
One of the great things about our discoveries is that the more we learn, the more we discover our ignorance. Life is funny that way. Happy Leif Erikson Day, tomorrow.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes activist, poet, and writer, James Baldwin. “Voyagers discover that the world can never be larger than the person that is in the world; but it is impossible to foresee this, it is impossible to be warned.”