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I am an empty cup

January 8, 2008

Some days, I just wake up, and I want to stuff my head full of knowledge and experience. So many books I want to read, so many things I want to know and to learn and to do.

I feel restless all the time – wanting, needing, curious, thirsty, starving for…well, just more I guess.

What is that? Is that mental illness? Is it just life? Is it normal to feel restless all the time?

I have always had a strong desire to knowI remember, the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade, I insisted that my mother buy me practice workbooks for multiplication and cursive writing – skills we would be taught in 3rd grade. But I couldn’t wait…I had to learn it RIGHT NOW.

Learning. As much as I can, as often as I can. Simply for the pure and selfish joy of learning. And thinking. Much of what I want to know isn’t practical and/or I don’t really plan to use it. Just to know it.

This desire to know that I have, feels like a burning inside me. It calls to be attended to, quenched, slaked, fed. It’s physical, almost palapable. I often wonder if people can see it on my face when they look at me…

Nobody else in my family is like me in this – maybe my dad, a little – but not in intensity.

I feel like a giraffe living among sheep dogs.  The dogs have a job to do, they know their place, they know their purpose.  And there I am among them, with my head up in the clouds, looking around wondering “Why? How? What?”  The dogs look at me like I’m useless, and like I’m not serving my purpose. And me, living among the dogs, I can see their point.

What is my purpose? What am I meant to do with the gifts God has given me? Why has God put a giraffe to live among the sheep dogs?

Wish I could figure it out. I want to know!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2008 10:11 am

    Oh dear, yes I know that feeling. Reading as hunger or thirst, a physical need to just devour every little scrap of book I can find.

    The world needs sheep dogs, but the world needs giraffe’s too.

  2. January 8, 2008 10:16 am

    Hi Eileen,

    I can so relate to this. When we were younger it felt like we had acres of time to explore. Now I feel as if the hourglass is running out. AHHHH!

  3. January 8, 2008 10:38 am

    I can remember when I was like that. Grad school beat it out of me…sigh.

    But Tandaina has it right—the world needs giraffes! I love your curiosity about the world. I wish more people had that…

    I think the greatest danger we face as a society is that people don’t want to know anything anymore. All they seem to care about is watching the latest “reality” show on TV, reading about Britney Spears, or going to the mall. I despair for us as a country because of it—-if it’s true that you get the government you deserve, then we deserve George Bush. 😦

    So you keep learning, sister. Anybody who tries to discourage you from doing so is not on the side of the angels….

  4. January 8, 2008 11:38 am

    I’d ditto Wormwood’s Doxy x 1000. And I’d add that the mere fact that you are a seeker will teach you that the giraffe shouldn’t worry too much about the sheep dogs. Just concentrate on being a giraffe, and the pack will fall in line…one way or another 🙂

  5. January 8, 2008 12:17 pm

    Giraffes have a longer view…

  6. rick allen permalink
    January 8, 2008 3:27 pm

    What I can never figure out is why everyone else doesn’t feel the same way.

    When discontent with life, and looking for blessings to count, i consider how much I have available, think of poor Chaucer having to travel to Italy to read Boccaccio, imagine how hard it must have been to satisfy that desire to know when the labor required to produce a manuscript exceeded that to build a house.

    If anything, we have something of the opposite problem today. I see lists of the “top ten best books” and wonder how anyone can possibly know that, with more books produced each year than anyone could read in a lifetime.

    The internet presents its own peculiar kind of dangers, with its inexhaustable resources, but sometimes-questionable pedigree.

    (I am neurotic enough to keep a list of all the books I read in an accounting journal. I notice that around 2000, when I suddently had access to the internet, the “books read” count went down by a half to two-thirds. It’s now almost back to its pre-internet rate, as the novelty has somewhat worn off, and my creeping age has made me more conscious of the need to be a little more disciplined in going where I want to go–that, however, did not keep me this year from buying two books on hieroglyphics that I really couldn’t afford just because I’ve always wanted to know how they work.)

    So, nothing wrong with you. As Aristotle saith, “Pantes anthopoi tou eidenai oregontai physei.” And when you repeat that to your friends, and they stare, uncomprehending at you, with wild surmise, you can exclaim, in your best Steve Martin voice, “Oh, I forgot. Yooou don’t speak Greek! ‘All men by nature desire to know’.”

  7. January 8, 2008 4:08 pm

    Did you see the movie Ratatouille? We just watched it and discussed it on our EFM online group — all about being different in a family.

  8. grace permalink
    January 8, 2008 7:46 pm

    Yes, I’m with you there. An old friend of mine who was into cartoons and drew everyone as animals always drew me as a giraffe… and I’m not that tall, either! I think that to worry about that sort of curiosity and mental energy as being illness or annoyingness is sad… and I think that, often God can use randomly-acquired knowledge in amazingly unexpected ways…

  9. January 8, 2008 9:45 pm

    Eileen, why can’t I see you as an empty cup? I have something of the same hunger, but not of the same intensity as yours, I’d say. I’m ashamed to say how much my time on the internet has cut into my reading time. That is one of my tentative, not quite formalized New Year’s resolutions, to be on the internet less, and interacting with real people and books more.

  10. Paul (A.) permalink
    January 8, 2008 11:20 pm


    (Eileen, you’ve found out that learning stuff is fun! But don’t tell those others. It’ll be just our secret.)

    Meanwhile, for everyone: A fun word game that feeds people!

  11. January 8, 2008 11:49 pm

    Me, too. I still want to learn, learn, learn, even though someday I know I’ll say it’s “straw” just like Thomas Aquinas, though I’m not in his league.

  12. January 9, 2008 11:00 am

    Boy, can I sympathize with this. And luckily, I’ve been a recovering Grad School student long enough that I’ve gotten my love of learning back 🙂

  13. klady permalink
    January 9, 2008 6:32 pm

    “This desire to know that I have, feels like a burning inside me. It calls to be attended to, quenched, slaked, fed. It’s physical, almost palapable.”

    Yes, I know, all too well. Here I sit with piles of books, papers, newspapers, magazine articles, on everything from religion, politics, economics, physics, biology, psychology, nature writing, environmental issues — you name it, it’s in the pile, not to mention literature galore. I’ve got to do more reading and less ordering from Amazon (which now tempts me because getting discount prices, free shipping, and paying no taxes makes it a perpetual book sale compared to going down to the local Barnes & Noble).

    Fortunately for me I finally found work in which I am praised, sought out, and occasionally rewarded for my obsessive-compulsiveness and need to search out complex truths. My boss knows and appreciates that I am constitutionally incapable of being tossed a question or an issue and listening when told to spend “no more than 5 or 10 minutes” on it. If he really wants a quick simple answer, he’ll give to someone else or handle it himself. He knows that I won’t rest until I’ve got a good answer, have searched all over for it, and looked at the question and the answer(s) from a number of different angles.

    Unfortunately, that leaves less and less time for the fun stuff for just me. It’s hard because my husband, while an intelligent and well-read person who likes to read on vacation, just can’t comprehend my need to read and quest so much. I try to sit and watch the umpteenth Law and Order re-run with him and go to movies that don’t tax the mind (unless you count thrillers) because he really needs and wants to relax in mindless ways when he’s not working. But I feel like I’m wasting time unless I’m reading books or online, because there’s always something I want to track down or work through. Just wish there was more time all round.

    Glad to hear someone else struggles with this as well. Don’t know how you manage to get through all that you do and share it with us here.

    I’m just having trouble here picturing a Fluffy giraffe.

  14. January 9, 2008 9:11 pm

    Having trouble imaging a flufflie Giraffe; I’m not. And I don’t imagine Eileen, but remember her.

    Oh, mercy, my oldest Ms. Jones–well, one of the oldest, heh–printed, and pictures, and the beautiful books, and all they teach.

    “I got it bad, and that aint good”

    Edward Kennedy Ellington, American Composer and Musician

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