In life, I’m sure, you have encountered/encounter/will encounter people who will tell you that books, films and music are not important. I suggest you ignore those people.
Knowledge is pretty much the most important thing you can acquire. There is very little evidence that not reading books, watching movies and listening to music will not lead you anywhere in life. On the other hand, many of the most accomplished people in life had one thing in common: they read, watched, listened, explored. They acquired knowledge all their lives.
There is another reason. The one thing in life that’s going to get you anywhere and can change your life is finding a mentor, who will help you acquire knowledge and achieve a better version of yourself.
There are two ways of finding a mentor.
The first way is by contacting people directly, asking them questions and establishing a relationship with them. Understandably, not everyone will be willing to help you. You may contact ten people, and out of those ten people you may only get one reply. However, that one reply can be your one step forward in acquiring knowledge and getting you that one step closer to your goal, whatever that may be.
The second way is possibly easier but just as rewarding. It is by establishing a relationship with people you admire who may be dead or unreachable through their works, whether through books they wrote or have been written about them, films they made, or music they made.
Some of my mentors, Helen Keller, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Louis Armstrong, Leo Tolstoy, Walter Benjamin, Elizabeth Bishop, etc. are long gone. Yet I feel a connection with their lives and their works that is a lot like having a relationship with them.
Robin Dunbar said that a human will only maintain a stable relationship with 150 individuals. I think that’s a good number.
In your life, you will hopefully read thousands of books, watch hundreds of thousands of movies, and listen to an incalculable amount of music of all kinds, from all parts of the world, dealing with different themes and issues.
However, you will encounter works that will particularly resonate with you and you will feel the need to revisit them, whether by experiencing them again or just by thinking about them.
From the list of all the books that you will read, films that you will watch, music that you will listen to, you will find yourself automatically compiling a list – whether mentally or on paper – of 150 works that will have positively affected your health, your wealth, and your happiness.
We live in an age where knowledge is more accessible to us than it ever has been before. As a result, it has never been easier to find your mentors. For anyone who is not hindered by technological issues of any kind, there are no excuses.
No matter what your goals are in life, nothing will set you on a faster path in achieving those goals than actively looking for them either through direct interactions with living people, or through your interactions with books, films, music and the arts at large. It is through these interactions that you will most likely find the confidence and the desire and the curiosity to gain experience out in the real world.
Originally published on my previous website, CineCola on June 18, 2018.