It happened again today…driving along, listening to NPR’s Science Friday and this lovely woman is describing her passion. She’s talking cattle. She knows, it seems, everything there is to know about Texas Longhorns. She knows their history, their lineage, their DNA. She’s explaining to the interviwer and the audience the how’s and why’s of cattle-ranching, branding, fencing, and cowboys. She’s quick to explain the similarities and the differences between these bulls and the fighting breed in Spain. And it dawns on me, I know nothing at all about this. My bovine knowledge void is as expansive as all of Texas.
How, I wonder, does someone become so enamored with something so specific? When did she discover that her true passion lay here, and not say, in horses, or butterflies, or violin concertos? What combination of genetics and environment causes someone to realize, I am destined to become an expert in THAT, not This??
A few hours later, driving home, I heard an expert on the rock art of Texas. (I’ve already been on-line, looked at all the photographs posted, watched a video, and ordered souvenir notecards). I learned about Shaman figures, panthers representing power, and reverance for the ancients. Stories preserved on limestone walls. They used their paint to tell the news, the archeologist said, like newspapers or radio broadcasts today.
There is so much I don’t know, that it leaves me dumbstruck. A hundred lifetimes wouldn’t be enough to find out all there is to know. But today I feel a little less ignorant about cows and caves. A little more grateful for the mystery of the great unknown.