Last night I was settling back in to my New York apartment while the wind whistled through my windows. It was so loud at one point that I couldn't sleep so I flipped on the TV to CNN. Chistiane Amanpour was reporting about Muslim radical extremists in the U.K. Though I watch the news regularly and read several newspapers, there are some topics that still confuse me. The complex network of Muslim radical extremist groups is one of them. I know all the vocabulary though I don't know how it all hangs together. And this bothers me.
I started thinking about all of the things that I know just a little about, and how much it bothers me to have holes in my knowledge. I don't like the phrase "I know enough just to be dangerous." I'd much prefer to know enough so as not be dangerous but be able to speak intelligently on a topic.
In this new year, there are a few topics that I'd really like to dig into and understand in depth. Here are a few of them:
1.) WHAT - I know little to nothing about Islam and its many factions. I'd like to take a small step toward piecing together the popular vocabulary that surrounds this religion. It's influence is growing in leaps and bounds, dominating our news waves. I should understand it more clearly if I'm to have a greater understanding of our own foreign policy.
HOW - My friend, Amy, is very well-versed in the topic so I'm going to ask her to give me a little crash course during one of our catch-ups. I'll also ask her for some primer books, blogs, and news services that would be a good reference for me.
2.) WHAT - I've been practicing yoga for a decade though have not read some of the sacred texts that serve as its base. I also don't know the Sanskrit names for all of the asanas (poses).
HOW - At the end of February I am going to begin a very intense yoga teacher training program to master this material. Every other weekend, I'll be practicing 9 hours on Saturday and 9 hours on Sunday, for 14 weeks. In addition, the program also requires meeting 3 times per week after work, independent reading and writing assignments, and class attendance at the studio once per week. It is a rigorous program that will require a great deal of focus, though my passion for the art and science of yoga will make the rigor a welcome circumstance.
3.) WHAT - The news stories I love most are those that showcase the Power of One. I'd love to read more of these stories in 2010 to understand the psychology of this personality type, and there are a few people that particularly intrigue me. There are several sources that catalog the journeys of these kind of people. Two I particularly like are NBC's Making a Difference segment and Dafna Michaelson's 50 in 52 Journey.
HOW - I've ordered a few books that share the stories of Geoffrey Canada, the Founder of Harlem Children's Zone, and William Kamkwamba, the 14 year old in Malawi who built a windmill for his family armed only with a local library book. These are incredible stories of people who saw a need in their communities and set to work to meet that need with little or no resources except their own ingenuity and passion. Could anything be more inspiring?