I have always had a fascination with language.
The power of context, style and content over a reader has always excited me, and driven me to want to learn about it more.
I consummated this love recently by applying to be accepted into a Communications postgraduate course – while never having completed an undergraduate degree.
There was, of course, challenge in this pursuit – essentially, employing my treasured skills to concoct a letter fabulous enough to convince professors that I should bypass an undergraduate degree.
It was fun, cheeky and incredibly irreverent. And it worked.
Once the novelty of my acceptance wore off, it was replaced by a harsh reality: I actually had to complete the darn thing.
And for anyone who has done postgraduate studies, you’ll surely agree: you cannot fake it.
Not that I faked the letter – but there was a certain element of “sleight of keyboard” involved.
Faced with producing evidence of my knowledge in the form of references and bibliographies, I began to feel bitter and trapped, and lament the narrow edicts of modern academia which makes me prove my knowledge. The cheek of them.
If only my professors subscribed to the writings of the great Swami Vivekananda , whose teachings on man’s pursuit of knowledge purports that all knowledge is inherent to man (and presumably woman), and that the infinite library of the universe is inside your own mind.
Come on. You can’t get any more cutting-edge than that. But alas, it isn’t enough to persuade the referencing-dragons at my university.
So, I do the only thing I can do to feel better of the situation. I shut my laptop and read Paddington Bear.
Do not be fooled into thinking that such tales are only for the simple-minded (although I won’t deny I’m often incredibly simple-minded). I’m not the first and won’t be the last to suggest children’s literature conveys concepts of profound wisdom to the reader.
Take The Adventures of Paddington Bear. What a clarifying tale, and one which celebrates human nature at its simplest and most natural. The Browns see a lost Bear at Paddington station. They like it. They adopt it. Paddington begins a new life. He makes amusing mistakes. He does his best to put things right. The Browns love him in spite of the fixes he gets in. They have many adventures together. Oh Paddington! The End.
What themes are apparent in such a book are: unconditional love, spontaneity, acceptance, celebration of the spirit, simplicity and joy in small things.
And overall, an unshakable belief in happiness.
Sorry, I haven’t referenced these findings.
So whenever I’m feeling the weight of being a contributor to the sum of human knowledge, I read Paddington Bear and immediately feel humbled and gladdened that wisdom can be found in the most simple and delightful things; the wisdom of a Bear who carries leftover breakfast bacon in his suitcase and unwittingly worries the life out of poor Mrs Brown.
That, and develop an immediate craving for sticky cream buns.
After all, a Bear has got to eat.