As I’ve noted here before, I’ve recently become obsessed with the sense of smell — which has been an interesting experience, for several reasons.
One reason: this obsession has reminded me about the nature of learning. I’ve been struck by how much I’ve learned in the last few weeks. I went from knowing almost nothing about the scent of smell to knowing… well, quite a bit more. And without any effort, any drilling, any assignments on my part. Quite the contrary. I’m gulping down books, jumping around websites, eager to learn more, more, more.
The same thing happened when I was working on my Churchill biography. In college, I’d taken classes that covered World War II, and I had to force myself to do the reading, and I struggled to memorize the facts. But through the lens of my limitless fascination with Churchill, I couldn’t get enough of these materials, and I remembered facts easily.
And what’s strange — for me, at least — is that this interest clicks in so suddenly.