“Whence come the highest mountains? I once asked. Then I learned they came out of the sea. The evidence is written in their rocks and in the walls of their peaks. It is out of the deepest depths that the highest must come to its height.” excerpt from Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Friedrich Nietzsche
I have long considered books to be absolutely amazing things. Simple treasures of printed words on paper. Vast collections of our collective knowledge mass produced and accessible to just about anyone that can read.
I don’t have much college education just a couple of semesters here and there. I don’t have anything against going to college, it was always a matter of affordability for me. I just didn’t have the financial means for it. Because I couldn’t go to college I was forced to look at learning from a different perspective.
It was this perspective that made me realize the value of books. I came to the realization that for the cost of a book and a little of my time I could learn the same things taught in a college course. Sure it takes a little more self discipline and you don’t get the same things you might get in a group learning environment, but you can still get the same core knowledge often at a much faster and more efficient pace. You can often do this for very little money with used book stores and libraries.
It was this realization that even after I could earn enough to afford college gave me a preference for self learning. Thanks to books I am self-taught in most everything I do. I am a self-taught artist, a successful computer programmer, a student of history, nutrition, science, women’s studies and photography all thanks to books.
The passage above is from my favorite book and is one of my favorite excerpts ever. I find it particularly relevant as a metaphor for trying to change one’s self. It is out of ones deepest depths that ones highest peaks are born. I also find relevance in this passage and its metaphors as I climb these high peaks and work through the highs and lows of a journey such as this. Of course as well the relations of the man in the mountains in the story.
I am always fascinated by the ability of the contents of a book to seep into your sub-concious. While some things you learn from books immediately take hold in your mind others are ideas planted like seeds that take years to grow.
I first read Zarathustra when I was in my mid-twenties. I have read it several times since. Not too long ago I went back and read it again. I was suprised and amazed to find in the printed words many seeds of the philosophies and concepts I use in my life today but wasn’t sure where they came from.
This trip has reminded me of the value of books. I believe also a trip like this is much like a good book. While some things I will learn along the way will be immediate, others will like planted seeds come to fruition over time.