How on earth do we develop our understanding of how the world works?

One of the mysteries that haunted me for a long time is where music comes from. When I sing a song, I simply repeat a melody that I heard somewhere (my mother loved to sing and as a kid at school we learned a lot of songs). But where does the melody come from? I didn’t realise that music was composed by someone. Of course, I had heard about composers, but how they worked or why they did it, was a mystery to me. It wasn’t until I took guitar lessons that I saw the sheet music and learned to read notes.

Another mystery is where the food in the store comes from. First of all, how do vegetables become vegetables? Why do they have to grow, and where are they grown? And why are there so many different species? No idea. Also, how did we know which ones are safe to eat and which not? Growing up, no one explained this to me and it didn’t occur to me to simply ask these questions.

As a daughter of a bookseller I had many books to read. And read I did! However, the idea that I myself could write a book was beyond me. Becoming a writer was unimaginable. One could become a doctor, a grocer, a farmer or a bookseller etcetera. One could become anything but a writer. Where would one begin? I might have written a poem, but in my mind that wasn’t nearly enough to become a writer.

In hindsight it seems funny to me that as children things aren’t properly explained to us when we need it, as grown-ups we’re often too busy with other things and by the time we are old it’s a changed world.


  1. Grace (as in Gifts of ...) says:

    When I first went to the States I was impressed by how much more ready they are to declare themselves as competent in a field than Europeans are. They readily say ‘I’m a pianist’ after a couple of lessons; ‘I’m an athlete’ if they can jog a block. They describe each other that way too – ‘My friend, the doctor,’ ‘My daughter,the artist.’ We are much more modest, I’m not sure if one is better than the other, for sure they have consequences.

    You are a writer, a photographer, a philosopher and a chronicler of everyday wonder. Who says so? I do.

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