It’s midway through the second academic term in Singapore, and I’m supposed to be studying. But guess what? I’m writing here and trying to bring some life into this place. At best, this has been a great term. At worst, the term has been mediocre. To some up quite a few months of events and shenanigans is hard to do in one post, and I can’t possibly do any of that. So, instead of a summary, I’ll write what I have learnt.
The past few weeks is the weeks that I’ve actually left the old world behind. I’ve actually started reading again. After quite a long drought of not reading, and only tapping away on my shiny new computer, I realise that my usage of language has become repetitive, however broad. Reading is a form of expansion, the input of information into my biological hard drive.
Alas, I have not been reading much fiction, contemporary or otherwise. But I’ve been reading books about debate, design and programming. And from these sources of concentrated wisdom, I learn. This term has not been much of an academic achievement, and more of a disappointment. But throughout the course of all this drudgery, I can find meaning.
More likely, I’ve learnt the value of running my own race, and how to lead a courageous and fulfilling life. At the beginning of this term, I often wonder why I go to school. Why am I taking these courses, why must I do my homework? Why can’t I just let myself waste away and rot in front of my computer? I can do all these things, if I didn’t care any less. But who’s race was I running? If I learn how a new Chinese phrase, if I achieve a higher level of fluency in another language, who is to benefit? If I can do a math problem in just one second faster, who is to suck the milk of my labour?
Then, the only person benefitting from this is me. The only one that becomes a better person through the process is me. Perhaps I should learn to be forged by the fire, to not be bound by my reservations about hard work. Allow me to quote from Hellen Keller, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children od men experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces towards change and behave like free spirits in the face of fate is strength undefeatable.”
This quote is not an excuse for me not to study, but instead experiment with different skills and aspects of life, on top of studying. The inexorable advance of everything around us does not give us room to stagnate. That’s the reason why learning skills are important. Bored? Why not learn how to draw? Hungry? Learn how to cook!
My generation has a ubiquitous resource that previous generations past did not have. That resource is the Internet. The Internet contains resources, guides and information on a wide plethora of topics and disciplines. We used to value polymaths, but the modern world reveres specialists. Paradoxically, being a mathematician while being an artist is at its easiest.
If you want to learn anything, Google it. If you want a brief introduction to a new topic, look it up on Wikipedia. Want to watch tutorials? Do it on YouTube. It is sickeningly easy to mistake the Internet for a breeding ground of stupidity and a bucket of shit. It may be the world’s biggest collection of shit, but it is also the world’s biggest collection of gems.
It’s already midway through such a manic year, and things are finally looking up.
This post’s featured image is from the OS X desktop pictures, titled Abstract.