“I am all that I grok.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein is one of the most amazing novels I’ve ever read. It tells the story of Michael Valentine Smith, as a child lost on Mars then found a few decades later. The novel explores many aspects of what it means to be human and also how our world may be seen through the eyes of a stranger. It most importantly introduces the word grok and the concept of groking. I use the word quite a bit because I don’t know that there is a current word in the English language that expresses the idea as well.
To Grok something is to understand it so fully that it becomes part of you. To grok a chair for instance would mean that you understand the very essence of what the chair is, what its purpose is and how well it performs its purpose. To Grok a concept means that you understand it so fully that you can inhabit it and vice versa. Something that is often lacking. To Grok a person means that you get them on every level possible and carry them within you.
At various times in the novel Michael Valentine Smith talks about groking something or someone in their fullness. That is total and complete understanding and empathy. He talks about waiting and sitting with something before he can grok it in its fullness and won’t speak of it except to ask clarifying questions until he does. I only wish that I and many others I knew had the patience to sit with something or someone until groking in fullness came. Do you grok groking?
Click on images to see full-sized: