We are lucky enough to live in a world with unlimited access to information. Many have already begun to call it the Information-Age. Amongst all the change we have observed across science, technology, health, psychology, society, the way we play, the way we work, and the way we learn, the common theme is that we now have more information, about every subject including a host of new subjects, and more people have greater access to that information than any time before.
The Library of Alexandria in Egypt was rumored to be the greatest site of information and knowledge in the ancient world and it’s loss has been arguably the greatest tragedy of history, setting humanity back who knows how many centuries while we sought to relearn what we lost.
Today, most of us possess a veritable Library of Alexandria worth of knowledge within our pockets or just around the corner at the nearest internet cafe. Because of this, everyone has the ability to learn anything to which they set their mind, while at the same time, everyone has the ability to be a teacher of whatever they want. The ability to share information doesn’t necessarily mean we should, and the consumer of learning must be wary of whom they are learning from. Those of us who use the internet for inspiration, motivation, or advice must be cautious about where the impetus for our development comes from. Trust but verify is likely a good strategy.
The reason I lead off thusly is because 1) I recently wrote about passion and ambition and have been reminded of my passion for writing and helping others and my ambition to see this blog reach more people (as demonstrated by the fact that this is my 3rd post of the week – a number I haven’t reached in several months); and 2) I began looking critically about myself as a writer and a teacher and it got me thinking about WHY someone should listen to me. I know why I write. I write because it is a creative outlet, makes me happy, sharpens my mind, and ostensibly helps others. The harder question to ask is why anyone should listen to me. The latter is the focus of this post and why I bring up the Library of Alexandria and the plethora of information available. In a world full of thousands if not millions of true motivational speakers, figures, and roll models, and billions of unique stories – why should anybody consider my writing as media worth regard.
My story is far from epic. I doubt anybody will make a movie or a write a best selling-biography of Matt Kenreich any-time soon (If they anybody cares though I would like Walter Isaacson to write the biography or have Matt Damon play me). I have not overcome insurmountable odds. My life is about as privileged as one could ask for. I came from a loving household with involved parents who treated my sister and I well, raised us to be decent humans, and cared about our growth. We were not poor – far from it. I never had to ask if I would eat my next meal only when. College was never a question of how or if but where. I have been mostly healthy for my entire life – having no tragic illnesses to overcome. I have always had at least a handful of close friends to love and count on. As a member of society I have been equally blessed. I am a white, heterosexual, man raised in a judeo-christian household – each of which is an advantage where I come from. I wouldn’t trade my life circumstances with anybody else because I guarantee you – they would be worse than what I was born with.
You can easily find someone who has overcome far worse circumstances than I have. Where others were born into poverty, finding no opportunities easily available, they made themselves successful by forging their own paths through sheer power of will, determination, and focus. I never had a door shut in my face because of the color of my skin and I have never been persecuted for whom I love or for whom I choose to worship or not worship.
So maybe my life story isn’t an epic trial of David vs the Goliath that is a difficult life. That doesn’t mean that it is not worth telling. Maybe there are those of you out there with whom my story does resonate. Maybe you identify with me, yourself being a 30 year old male who has struggled to find their own identity, to deal with insecurities, and to find meaning in their life. Maybe you are compelled to listen to and find inspiration in my story not because it is such an incredible battle but because it shows that everyone can struggle – and this realization gives you comfort in knowing that you don’t walk your path alone – that others suffer similarly. The circumstances of our lives are not what matters. Each of us, no matter our situation, has battles to fight, struggles to overcome, suffering to endure, and we are each responsible for taking care of the individual we are and the hand we have been dealt.
Maybe we are nothing alike and maybe my struggles fail to strike a chord with you. But maybe it isn’t the specifics that matter but perhaps the fact that seeing one person confront their struggles and overcome them and then be vulnerable enough to discuss them gives you the courage to analyze your own life, coming to a better understanding of yourself and being better for it.
I didn’t come from rough beginnings like many more famous writers, speakers, or motivators, and I am far from as successful as any of them – no matter how you define the word. What I have succeeded from is conquering insecurity (for the most part), finding a purpose in life where previously I felt so lost I considered life meaningless. Physically I’ve always been reasonably healthy and athletic despite being a bit of a late bloomer. I am far from a professional athlete today but what I have been able to achieve is learning to love the physical reflection I see in the mirror and to achieve physical feats I never imagined. I have built confidence in myself to build a career from scratch and to build a life from scratch after moving to a new city. I have learned, failed, and bounced back countless times to become the person I am, and while that person may not be the most impressive – I am proud of who I am and there is no reason you can’t get there yourself.
The whole point of this blog, beyond sharing ideas, is to try to communicate how the people and knowledge I have been exposed to have impacted my life and helped me grow into a better version of myself. Every book, speech, study, quote, or individual I discuss on this blog has profoundly impacted my life. The best content of my blog is rarely original – it can be found in many other places, often directly from the original author. Part of my hope for this blog is that by reiterating the knowledge and experience of others that it can either be expressed in a different manner and perhaps that my expression might resonate more by virtue of its different perspective. Richard Dawkins described a theory of memetics to discuss how ideas replicated like genetics. The more ideas, like genetics, spread – the better chance they have to survive. Thus, by reiterating the best parts of what others have learned and sharing that – perhaps we can aim for a better society where such valuable knowledge is spread to more and more people and becomes a deeper and more permanent part of our culture. This is why I write and this is why I would say this blog is worth reading. I will not compel you to do so, but my hope is that those of you who do read this are better for it.
All of what has just been written applies to everyone. We all have a story to tell, and while you may not believe your story is wroth telling, there could be maybe even just one person who is inspired or motivated by your story, and you may just convince them to make the first step in bettering their own life.
I will close this post with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”