Knowledge? Here’s an outline about fios, focmart and eolas.
We live at an amazing time. I’m told that humankind has accumulated more knowledge in the last twenty years than in the twenty thousand years before that.
At our finger tips is the kind of information we could only have dreamed of twenty years ago – when we watched Star Trek on tv, and pondered in awe as Captain Kirk or Scotty called upon a speaking computer to ask any question they had. And today, it’s a reality for most of humanity.
‘I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.’ Maya Angelou
We have unbridled access to a vast amount of knowledge. And, sadly it is sometimes forgotten, or misused as we seek to use it devoid of wisdom.
Today, I’m in London, and I’m concerned at the impending UK vote about whether to remain in the EU (and I do so hope we remain ‘in’ as I believe it’s for the best), or to leave (which would be disastrous). In all of this cool, calm knowledge of the facts is needed, and wisdom too. It appears to be in short supply. I’m in London now, thinking about all the facts, the knowledge that I, and the UK, need to cast a responsible vote next week. Pray for us, please.
A few weeks ago, I sat on the back porch of my little cottage ‘Ty Gwyn’, near Capel Curig in north Wales as the sky darkened at dusk, and as a fresh wind blew from a different direction, and grey storm clouds rolled in from the direction of Moel Siobad – a storm was coming – and pondered the future and a major decision I needed to make. How I needed knowledge, then.
‘The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.’ Anaïs Nin
The ancient Celts knew a thing or two.
There are three awesome Celtic, Gaelic words about knowledge, personified in the distant past, and which might be useful to remember, today. They’ve served me well over the years, and especially a few weeks ago in decision-making.
‘Knowledge is a better weapon than a sword.’ Patricia Briggs,Raven’s Shadow
Fios, pronounced ‘fis’, is knowledge that comes from history. This could be knowledge that comes from someone else’s research in the past; or from a ‘folk knowledge’, the kind of knowledge that shows us where north is, when seeing a tree and knowing that moss doesn’t grow of the forever-shaded north side of the tree, or knowing that ‘red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’ or ‘ne’er cast a clout until may (blossom) be out’, when it comes to weather forecasting. Fios, then, is about learning from the past, from remembering, and from reading about others. It can take us so far, but many would agree that there is nothing quite like personal exploration to really know something.
‘No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.’ Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
Focmart, pronounced ‘fok-mar’, then, is knowledge that comes from exploration. I read all I could, when I was much younger, and was about to take my first ‘walk’ up Mt Snowdon alone. I read books, other people’s accounts and studied maps. But, actually doing it was altogether different. I had to make unexpected adjustments to my route as I explored all those ‘nooks and crannies’. Absolutely wonderful. An awesome adventure of exploration, on that first ‘climb’ and focmart was needed. Focmart is about intentionality and exploration, it’s the actual doing it!
‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.’
T S Eliot(Four Quartets)
Eolas, pronounced ‘oh-lass’. Eolas is knowledge that comes from what you experience. Having started my climb up Mt Snowdon, and I was very much the explorer (well, I was in ‘my world’, and I was very young), I accumulated knowledge by ‘internalising’ the exploration-trip. I had read about some steep climbs (fios), had explored the easiest routes available to me as they presented themselves (focmart), but I experienced, inwardly, the affects of the former – the pain from stubbed toe, a graze to my left leg, the exhaustion of trying to make good time when I should have paced myself, and experienced the exhilaration of reaching the summit. That’s eolas.
‘The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.’ Albert Einstein (The World As I See It)
Fios, focmart and eolas, is what we, in the UK as a nation, need right now, with the impending EU ‘remain in or leave’ vote. I think, as individuals, it’s what we all need.