The polymath dream

By the age of fourteen, having discovered Wikipedia after living for slightly less than a decade on a diet of several different encyclopedias, I decided that I should want to be a polymath. My life will have to be split into various stages where I undertake different studies and specialties, with the goal of advancing my knowledge and understanding of all kinds of different fields – mainly in science and mathematics.

Yet at the same time, I was deeply involved in the arts; having practised Chinese Calligraphy, dabbled with western paintings, digital graphic design, animation and film. I also read various literature and philosophy extensively and had an interest developed in history by the age of sixteen. It was clear I needed to be a polymath and nothing less because there was so much to learn and I wanted to cram all of it into whatever short life I have.

The ability to study economics at LSE was an important step when I was planning my college education. In fact, my college admissions essay was about my fascination with Newtonian Physics juxtaposed with my interest in the arts and philosophy – the compulsion to choose a course for my university degree drove me to economics. Not because it made the most money (no it didn’t, at least not during my time), but because it seemed to me that economics sat in the Nexus of arts and science, being called a social science.

The thing is that once I embarked on economics, a career in the business of infrastructure and energy, another force took hold and the practicalities of having to develop skills that generated decent income occupied my attention. So instead of being a polymath, I became more of a trivia nerd who can rattle off random general knowledge about a whole bunch of topics across different disciplines.

My recent reading of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance seem to have reawakened this dream of being a polymath. Perhaps it would be worth devoting more of myself towards a new path.