Random Reflections

I’ve not been blogging, deceiving myself that I should spend more time absorbing ideas rather than expounding them. It’s kind of true I have been reading and perhaps obliquely due to Peng Sing’s discussion on Richard Feynman on his blog, I was curious and decided to try and read some stuff by Feynman. I also read a couple of stuff about ‘thinking’ for the sake of some projects I am planning to initiate. The process of reading these materials seem more passive than I previously expected – I wanted to look into what these people studying the processes of ‘thinking’ have been achieving. As a result, I carefully took in the different thinking tools and the rationale behind them. For some, I practiced the same thinking habits in vastly different ways and in other cases, I had actually been using them all the time (except not as formally as suggested by Edward de Bono). It was pretty exhilarating to realised that your own methods of doing stuff are actually the ones studied and proposed by experts to be ‘taught’ to others.

The reason for citing the reading I have been indulging as a ‘more-passive-than-expected’ process is that I didn’t seem to quite interact with the proposed ideas in the way I normally do. When reading Feynman, I no longer have that ‘nods with agreement’ experience I encountered with ‘The Elegant Universe’. Maybe I was expecting too much – like the Teh-Si from 136 香港街鱼头火炉 opposite Singapore General Hospital. I felt that they produce top-notch Teh-Si when I first drank it and the second time I drink it, I feel that it tasted below standard although my cousin who was there both times, insisted the quality was the same. I had much higher expectation the second time because the first was in some sense, a surprise. Likewise, having read Brian Greene and heard about Feynman’s skills with lectures, I was expecting too much. I felt like I was just plainly looking at the type of ideas Feynman has to offer eventually.

I wonder if this is the gestation period for some big essay that’s going to come up. All the studying have kind of dumbed me into a standard essay sort of machine. Trying to study SAT essay section also produce the same effect. It sucks, and it drains values out of essays. In the same way, the life I am going through right now makes me appreciate big issues a bit less – I have got National Service, Tertiary Education and lack of sleep to worry about. At least during the preparation of ‘A’ Levels, I only had to worry about whether I studied and as long as I covered the syllabus and know my stuff, I am free to explore. Of course, some may be stuck at the preparation stage and I don’t deny there are times when it happened for me but by and large, I seem to actually enjoy more freedom before than after the academic hurdle. It is freedom of the mind I am referring to. The more decisions you have to make on your own and the more independence in life you gain, the harder it is to find time to explore the world and stay as an observer like I have always been. Curiosity can no longer be the excuse to find out about things – society needs you to back it up with the practical reasons for knowing, the function of discoveries and the benefits finding out brings. But the grass is always greener on the other side and knowing that helps you to push on with your existing circumstance.


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