Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Centre of Gravitas

So here I am at the end of physics olympiad, looking at it with a strange mixture of relief, thankfulness and somehow, regret.

All the sessions spent together in the labs...I would say were some of the most fun lessons I ever had. All my life, from primary school to secondary, I always wanted a teacher and a teaching environment like that. Granted, I could barely keep up, and was mostly just listening to others and following. But the dynamics of the classroom, the...atmosphere. It was, how should I put it, alive. The knowledge was alive. The learning was alive. I felt alive.

Regret, because in all the time spent with them I did not give it my all. Granted, I tried. But it was not my all. Me thinks a person can never give his all. But a person can try. I didn't try hard enough, thats for sure. My base and understanding of physics are good at best, average at worst. Sometimes, hopelessly narrow. I admit no shame in saying that of all the people in the "Group A" category of the oly I'm probably the weakest. Perhaps in the Group B category as well. Well maybe, just a bit of shame...a man can have some pride after all...

I feel so tired, and stare before me a mountain to climb. Several mountains to slimb. Small mountains perhaps, but mountains nontheless. Sometimes its easier to scale a single cliff than to tackle a few short hills in a row. Is this one of those times? I hope not. Because I cannot afford to burn out now.

EE, CAS, TOK, IA, BB, CC...the hardest things all use abbrevations, as if people were afraid to say the name itself. And I look at my results, a 37, with a qualification for Physics Dean's list. Acceptable, I would say. But I can do more.

I must do more.

And all I can do to push myself on, is to pray. For the battle now for me is more spiritual, more in terms of character, than in academics. For of all the mountains to climb I would say it is the mountain within my own heart that I fear the most. For it is the one that grows as I grow, that changes as I change, and forever remains, in appearance at least, unbeatable. At least by my own strength. So all I can do now is pray. Pray for strength and guidance, for fortitude, for spirit.

For temperance. I remember that word to this day. As I will remember it always.


One part of my playing style I notice is that I love "fifth wheel" characters. Jack of all trades types. Knowledge monkeys, if you will. The type who can, feasibily "fill in" any role to suit the need, and virtually "do anything", and fill out the gaps.

Part of it would stem from the human desire to be good at everything. Its a sort of in-built paranoid security measure - an answer for every situation. It eliminates the fear that something will screw up your life that you cannot deal with.

Part of it would stem from the fickleness of my own character. I find everything interesting, but nothing particularly interesting. Its like I have some sort of minor ADD. Oh look, a sparrow! Isn't it cute? Fluffy little yellow sparrow...

Ahem. The third reason, perhaps the only "logical" one to me, is actual the desire to serve. A born follower, if you will. I'm the sort of person who has an ability to notice patterns. Most people can, anyway. Its just that the patterns I look at all seem to lack something. And I'm the sort who believes that problems are best solved if you do it yourself.

Add them all up and what do you get?

Someone who sees all sorts of problems with a given situation and tries to, on his own, solve all of the problems, at least partially. And usually ends up failing at all of them in the end. Sad case...haiz.

Is it me, or does the world have too many leaders and specialists? Are we pushing our generation so much in one direction that they cannot navigate any others? When all men are drivers, who will stay behind to grease the wheels?

The people I admire...they are the ones with the charm and wit. They can slide into any situation and draw from it success. They can make sad people smile, bring logic to chaos, hope to despair, courage to fear. Despite not being good at maths, science, sports, arts...they are good at the one thing that, in the end, truely counts.

As Terry Pratchett wrote in his book, its all about the "soul...and the centre". It doesn't matter if you can do all sorts of magic, fancy tricks, elaborate words or phrases, if you do not base them around the central axis of your beliefs. Of all our beliefs. In the end, what are all our actions for?

What is the soul and the centre of society?

Is it the men with the fancy certificates and passionate speeches?

Or the one who rides on next to you, night and day?

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