I’ve been reading “Labyrinth of Solitude” by Octavio Paz – an overdue read – and he made a point about how the Mexican way is to seek contemplation, and the North American way is to seek understanding.
My inner Mexican contemplated because my inner North American didn’t understand. Of course, I’m not Mexican, and to label myself by a continent is pretty foolish – the latter not stopping people from doing it – but the point is that there is a cultural difference between the two, and I have always preferred contemplation.
The world I have lived in has constantly tested my understanding, giving grades along those lines, and I often find myself in conversation with people who believe that they understand something because someone told them, or they read it somewhere… someone else’s contemplation becomes their understanding. It isn’t earned.
I suppose in a world that constantly moves faster, borrowing the contemplation of others and making it one’s understanding is the way forward for a lot of people through formal education systems. It’s probably why I never truly thrived in them consistently, only thriving in demonstrating understanding subjects I had contemplated. This might be perceived as a flaw. I see that it demonstrates a flaw in society.
A borrowed understanding is not true understanding; a borrowed understanding comes from a context that is not your own. An understanding – a true understanding – comes through contemplation, and therefore is never complete.
If you understand that, I do believe you missed the point.