An autodidactic learning plan

Late last year, I was gifted a subscription to the online education platform, MasterClass. I spent a number of hours during the year-end holiday watching some of the lectures and browsing the workbooks that came with it, and that sparked the learner in me.

I’ve always been one who is hungry for knowledge. The nerd in me seeks it out for its own sake, but I don’t do a very good job of synthesising, organising, and often forget what I have read or watched. I also noticed that I would sometimes find something interesting that I want to learn more about, but then end up getting distracted by the firehose of content coming my way. That interest would then fizzle out before hitting me again in the future, leaving me in regret for not taking action earlier.

So this year, I came up with a plan to take a more deliberate approach to my self directed learning and reading. The idea is to transform myself from a curious nerd to a conscious autodidactic learner.

The plan, loosely

I began by coming up with a list of (too many) fields and disciplines that I wanted to explore. At a glance, these are the fields that I am exploring – Urban Development, Real Estate Investment, Business Management, Computer Science, Fiction Writing, Environmental Science, Islamic Studies, Personal Health, Personal Development, and more!

Yes, the above seems a little bit overboard and I am still trying to tighten the scope of my learning. I am conscious that I am entering some of those topics at a beginner level while I do have some inkling about specific topics within those fields and that has helped me in seeking out the resources for it – on online learning platforms, saved articles, and also my ‘Books to read’ list.

I’ve also tried to come up with a loose schedule to guide me on my journey, creating my own version of a ‘night school’. I know that things will crop up and disrupt the plan but having a tentative schedule will give me something to refer to and nudge me into action.

I’ll share more about this learning in due time and invariably, some of these topics will make it onto the blog as well. If you know anything interesting in these fields, please send it my way!

Journal Site Notes

Ground Zero

It is 11:00pm on New Year’s Eve of 2019. I am sitting in a hospital room with a deafening silence which is only broken by the periodic beeping from the monitoring machine that has been preset to measure a patient’s vitals at regular intervals. It is a cold place. One that could not be warmed by the yellow-orange lights shining on the desk, not by the wooden laminate finish in a room that I could only afford thanks to adequate insurance coverage, not by the view of the city that is on offer through the tall windows. The sight of a loved one asleep, spent from battling pain for the past couple of days and succumbing to the chemicals being pumped through her veins is heartbreaking and strangely reassuring at the same time. The peacefulness of the room is piercingly sterile.

The potent melancholy of the clinical environment and the looming new decade invited me to reflect on the previous one, and I saw a life that was better than I had ever imagined it to be, while concurrently being the worst nightmare I could ever have. I travelled on my timeline and saw my career taking amazing uncharted routes and my heart being filled with love and joy that I never knew existed. However, as I got closer to present day, the highs to be grateful for were slowly taken over by the devastation of having my closest ones stricken by illness and losing my mental health to unseen darkness. I found myself with scar tissues all over, standing in a blackened debris of broken dreams and my obliterated self. 2019 felt like the year I was reduced to my ground zero. 

Barn’s burnt down –

now I can

see the moon.

~ Haiku by Mizuta Masahide

It was in these ruins that I stumbled upon a wisdom that implored me to look up and see the full moon above. When I celebrated my birthday in November, I committed to nourish myself and it is that intention that I carry with me as I plant my hopes for 2020 and the decades beyond. It is from this place that I am writing these words for myself and for you dear reader. In a way, this is the origin story of this personal blog, an old-school traditional weblog starkly outmoded in this 20s era.

I hope for this place on the internet to serve as a public record of my learning, un-learning, and re-learning. I hope for this labour of love to be some kind of commonplace journal for ideas, wisdom, and curiosities uncovered in my mental and physical expeditions. I hope that at the end of this year, I can browse this site and see an ongoing record of thoughts and experiences encountered in my questioning for what it means to live a fulfilling life.

Much of what I hope to write in this blog probably had its seeds planted in the Dispatches newsletter which I started in July 2018 as a writing exercise. That project has been dormant since June 2019 for a variety of reasons, and it may return in 2020 as a kind of newsletter that will complement this blog. I do not what that will look like, but if you want to take the plunge into the unknown, you can subscribe to it here.

I’ll be very humbled and glad if you think that you might find (or already found?) something interesting here and plan to come back again. I’ll probably post on my Twitter or IG if there’s something new and the newsletter may be a way for you to be kept in the loop too. Or if you are still getting things via RSS, there’s a feed as well.

Till the next words, may the light of hope and love be with you.