redefined

I am a bit of a nerd. Now, I know that’s not really much of a revelation, but what is, is that I sometimes go through days, and even weeks, when I don’t feel like learning about things, or doing anything for the betterment of my education. When I was finishing up at uni, in my final year of Pharmacy, I thought that I could easily return to student life, and that I would be able to do so with the same enthusiasm I somehow maintained for four years through a degree that everyone else seemed to complain incessantly about. (I’m just kidding – it wasn’t that bad. The complaining, that is.)

But after finishing my internship, and working full-time for a while, and discovering all these wonderful things I could do outside of work now that I had a full-time job – after all that I just couldn’t picture myself going back to uni again. Certainly not as a full-time student, anyway. And somewhere along the line, my lust for learning seems to have tarnished somewhat.

However, when, earlier in the year, I heard that the World Science Festival was coming to Brisbane, I got pretty excited. And then I wondered what on earth the World Science Festival actually was…

Well, as it turns out, it’s a bunch of talks and exhibits and things, involving renowned science people from around the world, converging in one place to disseminate knowledge to the masses. (Sorry, I’m not sure why I’m being so wordy tonight. Perhaps attending the WSF has inflated my sense of my own intelligence.)

Scrolling through the events list, one that immediately caught my eye was the so-called “signature event” titled “Madness redefined: Creativity, intelligence and the dark side of the mind”. As one speaker on the day pointed out, it’s not the most politically correct title, but it certainly is intriguing.

I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness (self-diagnoses and jocular ones from friends don’t count), but I do have a fascination with all things related to the inner workings of the mind. I would also like to think, if I am permitted to do so without seeming immodest, that I am, in some way, creative and also intelligent; so I thought for sure this would be the one event I had to go to. And it did not disappoint.

And to think that I almost didn’t go because I had to pay $30 to attend! Perhaps I’m too used to feeling like education should be free (what with HECS or HELP or whatever they’re calling it now – that government loan thing that means we don’t have to pay for uni until after we’ve graduated and have secured a job that pays enough to pay the government).

So today, on a whim (but also quite determinedly), I went to the Convention Centre where the talk was to be held, and I bought myself a ticket, and I sat down in this auditorium full of, presumably, other nerds, and maybe people with various mental illnesses, and people who would wish to be considered creative.

Buying my ticket (I’m surprised it wasn’t sold out), I was feeling good that I was doing something for myself – something to improve that aspect of my life that has been a bit neglected lately. Despite being worried that my attention and concentration wouldn’t hold out for the 90 minutes that the talk was scheduled for (not to say anything of my stomach, as the talk was 12pm, and I hadn’t had a chance to acquire any food beforehand), sitting in the auditorium, waiting for the talk to start, I felt some of that enthusiasm and eagerness for learning that I’d had back in my uni days.

To be fair, the Pharmaceutical Society have held some very interesting lectures and workshops, in the years that I’ve been a member, that have evoked this same sort of feeling; so it wasn’t special in this sense. As good as it was, it probably still wasn’t enough to make me want to go back to uni and complete a second degree, so it wasn’t revelatory in this way either.

What struck me the most was actually a feeling very similar to one that I got from attending The Script’s concert last year: it was this wonder and awe that there were so many other people (complete strangers!) that had come together in this one space because of a shared interest. That is an incredible feeling. I suppose it’s almost like belonging and anonymity mixed together.

And as for the actual content of the talk, I’m still ruminating on that, so it’ll have to be a separate post.