I’m not a big fan of labels, but I learned a word the other night, and it’s a label I could happily apply to myself. The word was polymath. A polymath is someone who learns from everything they encounter and has specialized knowledge in many realms rather than just one.
I’ve been like that for most of my life, but I didn’t know until a recent episode of Bones that there was a word for it. The word was used most in the Renaissance period and was placed upon people like da Vinci and Alberti. Some people, especially in that time, chose to pursue knowledge in all its forms and make themselves knowledgeable in many realms of art, science and spirituality.
I have plenty of knowledge in various realms. I tend toward some more than others, so I know more about them, but I also have a rather wide variety of knowledge about all sorts of subjects. I’m always learning new things too. I tend to be proud of the fact that I can learn from just about anything. I don’t gain all my knowledge from expected sources like textbooks and educational films.
I have trained myself to learn from everything. I’ve been even more aware of it in the last few years as i started delving deeper into spirituality and helping others. I look for lessons and knowledge in everything around me. The internet, people, television, music, nature, anything I see has the potential to teach me something I didn’t know before or add to knowledge I already had. Sometimes something will come along and teach me that what i thought I knew was wrong.
I love that the idea of the polymath is all about being your absolute personal best. I’m always for that, and I promote that mentality in my writing. Here’s a great quote I read regarding the polymath or “renaissance man”: “A man’s capacity for personal development is without limits; competence in a broad range of abilities and areas of knowledge should be every man’s goal and is within every man’s grasp.” That syncs perfectly with my own views on life and personal betterment.
In a world where people are told that the “right” thing to do is find a teeny-tiny niche and go after it with everything you’ve got, where everyone is supposed to have a single specialty, the polymath is a dying breed. I think it’s fantastic that I’ve been trying to change that trend for years and now I know there’s a word for it: being polymathic. So there you go, a label I’ll gladly apply to myself. mark your calendars, this won’t happen often, if ever again.