When I turned 20, I was one month into my University Course and I had made the break. I had moved away from the safety of home, and from the 4 cups of tea a day. And I was sat in a coffee shop, reading Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ I was happy.
Then something happened. I was drawn into the book, and everything and everyone that was around me didn’t count, they were no longer there. It was just me and Scout and Gem. I had of course had this when I was younger, but back then their names were Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and I was older now, and this time it felt different, more special somehow. It was something that I knew then I would never/could never forget. I had found beauty in reading, in learning, and in life.
The question I then found myself asking- was why had it taken me 20 years for this sudden awareness and understanding to hit? George Orwell knew at the age of 6 that he wanted to write, just as Pablo Picasso knew he wanted to paint. So at an early age, they had found a passion for something, and they must have realised that to become successful, they would have to learn. So why wasn’t I like this? And why haven’t I still, in all truthiness, found a profession into which I want to put all of my eggs. I guess the only answer would be ‘I don’t know.’
I have ideas of how I want my life to be lived. Meaning, I know what jobs I would like to do, and which jobs I wouldn’t. I have romantic images of how I would love to live life; sitting in my study- the fire roaring, the dogs at my feet, knocking up another best-selling novel. And that’s beautiful, and I know to get there, I have to learn. And what I am trying to say is that right now in life, I actually want to learn. I am keen to learn. Keen to read, keen to see and feel.
If I were to have sat in a black box for the whole of my life, I would know nothing other than the six walls, and even that wouldn’t hold any resemblance. I would possibly be happy; ‘the satisfied pig in the mud,’ as Socrates puts it, but I would much rather be the ‘unsatisfied Socrates,’ struggling to learn, and struggling to live. This realisation and this passion to do well by learning is by far the most important thing I have learnt to date. And to me it is all that matters. It is the fuel that will keep the fire burning.
If there is a way, in which we can teach this to our kids when they are younger, then I am confident they will succeed. If we can make them interested, and teach them the thirst for knowledge, then what more is there learn? Show them that information is beautiful. We can’t all be Orwell’s, but we can all be ourselves, and we can succeed if we have the right frame of mind.
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