I don't know which teacher it was at Thornapple Kellogg High School — maybe Ms. Davidson or Mr. Stein or Mr. Consadine — but someone was the first to introduce me to a field of learning I love to play in: etymology.
Etymology: the study of the origin of words and how their meanings change over time. The root etym comes from the Greek eturum, meaning “true;” logy comes from logos, which is reason, meaning, account. And so etymology is the study of the true meaning of words.
(That might be the most meta paragraph I've written.)
But the point of this post isn't words or their meaning — it's that once there was a secondary educator who introduced me, out of not a standardized curricula but their own knowledge of the world, to a field of study that I've since been fascinated by and derived great delight from.
Before this teacher invited me to the Feast of Knowledge on that fateful day, I had never tasted etymology. I had never known such a thing existed, that there were thousands of stories about the lives words have lived.
I had no access to this universe. This cosmos, prior to being taught a knowledge-rich curriculum by a knowledge-passionate educator, was as invisible to me as cells were to the ancients.
Was that lesson as exciting as other introductions to new worlds I've experienced — say, the first time I saw Han Solo press the accelerator forward in the Falcon? No, on its face it wasn't. On its face, what was happening in the classroom that day probably looked very normal and average.
But dang, do I feel its long-term impact today as a person who writes for a good chunk of his living.
Knowledge yields the universe, colleagues.