This has nothing to do with the English Rock Band (Rolling Stones) or for that matter, the Beatles. This is only an innocuous recall of a proverb from my school days which is something that many of us are familiar with and can easily relate to.
All school going children are introduced early in life to the usual quota of proverbs. Teachers of junior school get select proverbs printed on posters and stuck on the classroom walls so that the idea conveyed by the proverb is learnt by the children. I too had my share. Our classroom was plastered with a good number of posters and as a result quite a few proverbs influenced me sufficiently enough to make me the person I am. But the one that I missed completely, the one that I couldn't relate to or make sense of, was a popular proverb that is used a lot in testing abstraction capabilities - “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”
Since I was a sincere student, it would appear strange that I failed to appreciate such a simple proverb. But then, the truth is I have been a rolling stone all my life and, let me confess, I have enjoyed it to the hilt. So it’s not very surprising that I remained unaffected by the wisdom encapsulated in this precious proverb. It’s pointless going into the reasons as to why I become a rolling stone and with no scope to remedy myself at this stage, I propose to establish that my plight (as well as that of other rolling stones) is something to proudly preserve and put to good use for a variety of reasons.
Yes, it’s true that the sharp insight that comes with focused and sustained attention to a segment of knowledge provides a zoom view that is invaluable and its true that a rolling stone will never attain that level of detail. But then what’s so great about this zoom view? Think again. Initial forays in science and advances in technology placed a premium on specialization and therefore we had people who specialized in brain surgery but proudly stated that they had no clue what their bank account was all about. But take a look around now. You no longer have typists typing letters that were dictated to secretaries by bosses who were helpless without a secretary or typist. Nowadays, the boss himself handles the keyboard. Multi-tasking is the new mantra and recession has only aided its growth. Engineers who are good managers and HR specialists who know a thing or two about production or finance mean a lot more than straight-jacketed individuals. Also, the present state of knowledge and likely future advancements will increasingly call for working in areas where disciplines merge - like industrial design which merges engineering knowledge with designing skills. When boundaries blur, the rolling stones will be in their element and fare better.
All knowledge, even if compartmentalized by us for convenience, is finally our understanding of ourselves, and the world around and beyond us. Rigid compartmentalization often results in our missing the wood for the trees. Thus, a purely commercial outlook could be bereft of or lacking in the tenderness and sensitivity that humankind is capable of. Different streams of knowledge focus on particular aspects of ourselves, life and the universe and since these are only filtered perceptions, they are all parallel worlds and it’s only when we move to different vantage points that we finally get the big picture right. A rolling stone who has existed in many parallel worlds gets to develop a more wholesome understanding that would have most of the missing ingredients and be a closer approximation of the truth.
While the sciences and the arts may seem divergent streams, and while astrology and the pure science may seem poles apart, in their purest form they are all but differently developed understandings of the world around us and of ourselves. Without getting into the politics of it, we can try to consolidate the gains by looking at the same thing from different perspectives. Watson and Crick were relative rookies but managed to crack the DNA structure ahead of other more experienced and brilliant minds, because they did not confine themselves to a narrow insular approach but tried to familiarize themselves and then consolidate the research findings of various scientists working insularly with divergent methods like Chemical analysis and X-Ray Diffraction studies. In the end their consolidating approach triumphed over the involved detailed probes by the specialists.
If one perfects cooking, one can see the management capabilities improving. For what is cooking but the management of resources (raw vegetables, meat, cereals, pulses, oils, fats, and spices) and conditions (fire, heat, cooling) to produce a desirable safe, edible and tasty product, packaged and presented appropriately for the consumers. The proper use of time, organization of men and material, inventory control and all aspects of management come into play in the humble kitchen. Now this is not confined to cooking and management alone. A whole lot of other areas have a rub-off impact on your knowledge and skills in other unrelated areas provided one is a good learner with an open mind. That is how the rolling stone rolls on from one setting to another and in the process develops multifarious skills and finds life a lot easier to handle.
Our binocular eyes provide us 3D stereoscopic vision and therefore we see better than a single camera lens would. The rolling stone has not just binocular but may be “trinocular” or “polynocular” vision, because of exposure to various schools of thought or knowledge systems. Therefore what he sees has much greater depth and clarity. What he sees is an automatic aggregation of what the six blind men saw in the parable “six men and the elephant.” The rolling stone straight away sees the elephant instead of tussling with meaningless confusing observations and data.
So you see its not too bad to be a rolling stone at all. On the contrary you could be a proud possessor of skills and perspectives that are hard to come by.
I rest my case.