[When] there’s a subject I’m ferociously interested in, then it is easy for me to learn about it. I take it in gladly and cheerfully… [What’s exciting is] the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it. There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it. And while it is inconceivable that anyone can grasp more than a tiny portion of it, at least you can do that much. What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it.
Excerpt from Bill Moyer’s 1988 interview with scientist, intellectual, and prolific author Isaac Asimov. Published in Bill Moyer’s World of Ideas by Bill Moyer, Doubleday (1989).