Do you ever feel mentally clogged? Like there’s a massive roadblock on a major neural pathway that is blocking your inner best? And all you have left inside is ideas and thoughts careening to a halt and manoeuvring hasty U-turns in defeat?
Do you think your mind works at its optimum? Do feel sharper, wittier, and more intelligent than, say, five years ago? Sure, you know much more, a whole lot definitely. This information-glut of a world we live in puts paid to that without a doubt. But to what end? What utility does it bring out? Even more macabrely, does that new knowledge perhaps block the best of you? Does it focus your mind on what the present information source arbitrarily designates as being most vital?
Two years ago, I was in an audience listening to a rather illustrious bench on the old guard of Kenya’s legal profession. One of them, a most vibrant Justice of the High Court, posed a question to the audience. Do you think being in law school has made you better intellectually or not? Of course I quote him verbatim but the gist of it was do the rigours of law school make you a better critical thinker or convert you into an intellectual robot who narrowly perceives everyday occurrences through the letter of the law and dulls out more nuanced conceptions of day-to-day life?
To some extent, I leaned to the latter option. One of my biggest frustrations over the past 5 years has been a gradual stagnation (or possibly decline) in my innate or acquired ability to creatively and critically analyse situations as they come. Yes, I may know more, a whole lot more but they all come pre-packaged with other people’s rigid conceptualisations. A rigidity that does not welcome challenge. Possibly I could blame the underwhelming teaching systems that I underwent in undergrad (hand-outs and preaching sessions rather than….) but I could also blame myself for not pushing. For not going against the grain to seek alternative viewpoints and challenging the norm.
There is an innately human comfort in the known. In sticking to rote systems of familiarity we avoid the dangers of failure and veil ourselves in perceived potency of the known. There was a time we yearned for the unknown and went out thirsting for it, hunting for it. Applying our minds to it.
Presently, anything is processed and pre-packaged. Read for consumption, preferably without chewing even.
It pains me sometimes, and I purposely push against this complacency. It makes my skin itch and keeps me awake sometimes. Saying no, no, no; there must be another angle to this. Everything cannot be this clear-cut. If it was, then why did I even bother?
Or maybe it’s a predisposition to overthinking, overanalysing.
It might as well be an inherent curiosity that I fear bottling. A drive from deep within that revs at every challenge.
I’m no robot.