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I am a Lifelong Student

Since I was very young, I have been fascinated with just about everything. I love understanding the mechanics behind how things work, whether that is pertaining to things, organisms, or ourselves. I love exploring causality, which is to say, if I do X what will Y be? The what, the how, and the why – in many ways, these concepts are what give my life the most meaning. It speaks to risk, reward, inputs, and outcome. Our universe is truly a wondrous place.

Since I left university, I have found that my ability to retain information, knowledge if you were, has increased exponentially. People often ask me, why haven't you done a PhD or an MBA? My answer has always been, the only difference between myself and people with those qualifications are that we have read and retained the information contained in different books. I love to read, and I have great respect for those who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of knowledge. Ultimately, though, while I love to learn, I don't see the point of spending money to make it official, somehow, when I'm not in the position physically to utilise the learning I have busied myself with.

Not long ago, someone suggested to me that, perhaps, I should study toward becoming a psychiatrist. While I always wanted to be a surgeon, and have always been fascinated with medicine, I do not see the point at this late stage in my life. I would have to go back to school for seven years to qualify as an MD, and perhaps a further five years to specialise. I would be 63 years old before I realised my ambition. For me, that would be a waste of time. That does not mean that I don't have any interest in psychiatric medicine. It simply means that now, at this stage of my life, I would study aspects of it purely to satisfy my own curiosity.

I have probably got more years behind me than I have ahead of me. That is life and that is fine, but if I am to make the rest of my life count, I would want to understand as much as I can about myself, creation, and my place in it. Knowledge is one thing. Wisdom is something quite different. The best way to explain this rationale is to say knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. Ultimately, the pursuit of wisdom is, for me, what I was put on this planet to do. My legacy will be to pass on whatever knowledge and wisdom I gain to a generation that is clearly in desperate need of both.

I don't believe that saying this makes me somehow narcissistic or having a God complex. I am just calling out what I see every day right in front of me. Social media has created so many cults of personality. If you do not know what I'm talking about, simply sign up to Twitter or TikTok. While I can understand that many people will ventilate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings on those forums anonymously, things go to another level when you are speaking as your true self. I have never hidden who I am on social media. I have always tried to be as honest about who I am as I could be. Not everyone has that luxury.

Luckily, I am not yet at a point where I would qualify myself as some sort of influencer. I think fame changes people. If I had more than a million followers on Twitter, for example, would I still say the things I do now? Would I pander to the sensitivities of others and self censor to the point where neither you nor I knew who the real person was behind the voice? I cannot honestly say. I would hope not. One thing I do know, however, is that I will continue to try to understand myself, the world, and the place I hold in it more completely till the day I die.

If, by reading this, you have grown as a person. If, by hearing me ventilate my thoughts, you have found yourself challenged. Well, then I will consider my job in terms of you as done. People do not change the world. Ideas change the world. People can then choose to act on those ideas, and those actions can lead to better things (or not). My hope is this – that my thoughts, ideas, knowledge, and wisdom, find fertile soil for the next generation to pick up where I have left off, thereby finding solutions to their iterations of the problems I have identified and explored. This is all anyone can do. There is no higher calling.

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