The Importance of Discovery

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“One Improved Unit” is an original bi-weekly column appearing every other Monday at, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OIU-only RSS feed available here.

What would life be like without discovery? From the moment we are born, discovery plays a vital role in our development as human beings. We discover our limbs and how they function. We discover our strength and how to wield it. We discover movement, communication, and relationships. I firmly believe that discovery is as important to our survival as is food, water, and protection from the elements. As we age, if we are not continually engaged in discovery, how happy can we really be? How content can we be in life?

About Ourselves

The experiences of life give us valuable and necessary opportunities to discover our emotions, desires, passions, abilities, strengths, virtues, and loyalties. All of these (and probably more) make up who we are as individuals. And they can all be developed, expanded, and refined. With each discovery we make of ourselves, we are that much better prepared to deal with life’s trials and tribulations.

I do not believe anybody is beyond strife. Even the most well-to-do have their moments of uneasiness, pain, and suffering. Discovering how others have overcome their challenges can go along way in aiding our attempts at triumph. The more we discovery about who we are and what we are capable of, the more confidence we will have in ourselves. Without confidence, one lives in fear and despair. Discovery gives us the means to overcome this fear and despair, and to continue on our journey.

About Things

Since graduating high school, my life has been one great discovery after another. Sure I discovered things in high school, but they were things that were thrown at me; things that I was forced to discover. Since having the freedom of discovery, I have found all sorts of fascinating and meaningful things. My worldview has change considerably over the last ten years.

Discovering new ideas, processes, technologies, and so on has helped to distract and empower me from what were very negative thoughts. Junior High and High School was a terrible time in my life, and I believe that not having the freedom of discovery played a major role in my mental breakdown. Having the freedom of inquiry means that one is not told what they need to know, but allowed to discovery it on their own. This does not mean that we must be alone in our discoveries, but we must lead the way. When our path is blocked or veered, we are being manipulated for someone else’s purposes.

We must not allow this to happen to not only ourselves, but to our children as well. Those that are least experienced dealing with fallacy and error are the most susceptible to mental predators. Our children must be given what is theirs by right of their humanity, the freedom of discovery. But they must also be given what it is our duty as parents to give them, ie. facility, mentoring, love, compassion, and non-judgment.

Final Thoughts

What are we if we are not continually discovering the unknown? The world and universe is very large, and we could not possibly discover all there is to discover in one lifetime. If we are not discovering, then what are we doing? then where are we going? then who are we becoming? then why are we living? then when will we start?

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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.