Too often, we approach books prescriptively. Rather than taking a leap, we take out a notepad. We scribble down key takeaways in the marginalia. And we scribble quickly because we don’t want to fall behind. We speed read and speed notes and optimize. It’s like we’ve forgotten that humans are made out of DNA, not RAM.

The prescriptive approach is one way to read.

The explorative approach is the other.

Explorative readers become the book. Books work upon the minds of those who aren’t afraid of their axioms being punched in the throat. Explorative readers become the hero and the villain and the setting, simultaneously. Explorative readers embrace the unexpected. The unexpected is oh the places you’ll go, and oh the people you’ll meet. Who doesn’t like a good meeting with the unexpected?

Both approaches to reading have one similarity. Both approaches collect wisdom, but how each approach uses that wisdom is the key distinction. It goes like this.

Prescriptive readers display wisdom. The only thing transformed by wisdom collected by prescriptive readers is the weight of their bookshelf. Displayed wisdom raises us so fast that we fall ill to altitude sickness. Displayed wisdom inflates our sense of intelligence. Displayed wisdom is a trophy, thus it atrophies as the transcendent power locked in the wisdom becomes stagnant as stone.

Explorative readers eat wisdom for breakfast. To the explorative reader, wisdom becomes like food. Hunger is a lower craving, an animalistic instinct. Thus, eating wisdom lowers the explorative reader. In this sense, wisdom lowers one’s sense of intelligence. This is what it means to be humbled. Not to get a free pass into the kingdom of heaven. But lowered into the familiar realm of the mundane and ordinary. Lower and lower and lower. Lower and lower until flesh meets earthy mantel. That’s what wisdom means to explorative reader.

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