“An infinite game [is played] for the purpose of continuing the play.”
–James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
The more you learn, the more you find out how much there is to learn. When you decide to go into a particular field and as you continue down the rabbit hole, mastery in that field seems fleeting. Every new concept you learn is accompanied by 10 more concepts you didn’t know existed, let alone understand.
When I bought my first DSLR camera a year ago, I didn’t know much about photography, videography, or cameras in general. I started with the basics. I consumed as much as I could to understand ISO, shutter speed, focal length, aperture, and every other basic photography concept I encountered. Even that was overwhelming. It took many hours and reps experimenting with settings on my camera to develop a practical understanding of how the camera settings affect the final product.
After the basic settings, you can dive into different types of photography. You can dive into videography or different types of cameras. You can dive into editing, and within that transitions or keyframes or any other pieces of the puzzle.
I was overwhelmed, especially when I looked at other people who had much more experience than I did. Mastery seemed out of my grasp. But once I accepted that there will always be more unknown than known, I started enjoying the process. I didn’t see each new puzzle piece as a tiny part of a big puzzle that would take years to solve (I’m very impatient), I saw it as the only thing that existed in my world at that moment. The problem I was facing was sitting in front of me just like the next one would be after I solved this one.
Mastery is not a point reached, it is a mode of operation. The fact that there are infinite number of things to learn means you have infinite time to practice operating like a master. It’s not about learning certain things. It is about embracing and mastering the process of learning things.
When you stick in one field for 10+ years, you will learn a lot, you will understand how little you know, and you will develop a true love for the process of learning.