a student of the school of life.


approximately two years ago when i started to revisit philosophy about the self/self-identity, the school of life came up in my research.  a london-based hub of theory and thought, idea and insight, the school aims to guide humans on how to live life happily and fulfilled.

once a week or so i tune in to read blog posts or watch its sunday sermons” (sometimes too preachy but the ones based in philosophy are quite enlightening).  naturally, the themes of self-discovery have been  of most interest and benefit to me.

this week’s sourcing through the school’s upcoming curriculum include varying topics of depths that i find particularly relevant: relationships, friendships, love, change agents, conversations and solitude.

the syllabus for each class is positioned to be thought-provoking and to challenge the student’s own personal conventions.  thus, i thought it would be a good writing exercise for me to post an excerpt from each and try to test my understanding of my own self-philosophy. 

(coarse topic is in bold, description is in italics and my worldview follows in plain text.)

how necessary is a relationship?  do we need a relationship in order to live a happy and fulfilled life?…resolute singletons would argue that flying solo better suits our contemporary lifestyles – greater freedom, fewer sacrifices, no commitment, more fun.

my thoughts: there is a longer response to the above questioned on the website that also explores a statement regarding those who need a relationship to feel complete and those who go from relationship to relationship in fear of being alone.  measuring the necessity of a relationship is clearly a personal opinion.  however, for myself, i didn’t have to read past “resolute singletons” to answer the question.  and a proud singleton i am.

for where i am currently at in life rejoicing in being single with the only commitment being my own health and happiness is where i need to be.  does that mean that i don’t look forward to sharing future moments of love and laughter with someone?  absolutely not.  it just means that i need to get there on my own accord.  i’m learning that there is a lot of truth that one needs to seek individual happiness before sharing it with someone else.  for those in a relationship, revel in it, because sharing your heart with someone extraordinary is truly elevating. 

how to be a better friend.  lovers may come and go, work may carry us half way around the globe, but friendship tends to be a stability in an otherwise changing world.

my thoughts: there is true essence in proverbial “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.  we live in a small yet transient world, which is why lasting friendship transcends both time and distance.  my pipe dream adventure: to spend a year traveling the world visiting those who have fondly touched my life in some profound, positive way:  to reunite the cohort of blue and gold vikings, to tour the byward market, to sip tea on the cobourg pier, to rewalk queen west, to tear up manhattan, to dance in miami, to eat a scottish egg in london, to flirt with sailors in halifax, to raise the anty in antigonish, to explore the deserts in the middle east – recreating the great times spent in laughter and friendship. to explore new cultures in germany and sweden – creating new memories with new comrades.

in a fragile, ever-changing world instability does arise.  which is why a commitment to being a good, strong friend needs to endure our busy schedules.  intolerable of “i’m too busy” i strive to remember birthdays, moments of ‘when-we-first-met’, wedding dates and the next generation of our families being born.  no one is perfect but being a good friend – and having them in return – is worth every effort in the world.

love – a history.  simon may once described love as “the all-too conditional desires for one whom we experience as indestructible grounding our life.”  is genuine love unconditional – unlike all other emotions?  or somehow eternal?  a concern for the flourishing of our loved ones?  or our chief bulwark against suffering and loss?

my thoughts: hmmm….this one is interesting as i tend to be a little too serendipitous when it comes to ‘love’.  i once had this long and interesting conversation with someone about the difference between liking someone, lusting after someone, loving a person and being in love with that person.  needless to say a resolution was never really drawn, however, the talk definitely reaffirmed the complexity of this silly yet brilliant emotion.   i have an enthusiastic admiration for people.  humans – we’re fascinating creatures.  and as a result of love many people in different ways of course.  so for me to define love – or to even give you a ‘history’ of love….well, this girl does kiss but she doesn’t tell too much about it.

how to make a difference.  by the law of inertia, we tend to remain positive.  thomas edison once said, “if we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”  the influence and power in becoming a change agent.

my thoughts: i’m infused with a determination to always make a difference, to be nurturing, to try and help when i can.  naively, i thought i could save people, fix problems – be a hero to the world.  but “as i get older” i realize that you can’t fix things for others and i definitely can’t end world hunger but what i can do is strive to reach out and be there when needed. 

we aren’t all capable of doing everything that fascinates our minds – we aren’t superhumans.  but we can all make a different – even in small, slight (and meaningful) ways.  always keep an open mind, have a warm heart and try to champion at least one issue or cause that you are truly passionate about.  we can all be a natural ambassador for change…altruism doesn’t need be an unforseen thing.

how to have better conversations.  the art of conversation…our lives are so often filled with superficial talk.  how can we have conversations that inspire us to think in new ways, that stimulate our curiosity and that prompt us to say things we’ve never said before?…making the leap from mere idle banter to enriching and adventurous conversation.

my thoughts: to date the most transformative experience of my life has been leading a student distress centre whilst at university.  it was in this space that i learned how to listen to others, where i learned to separate my judgement from other people’s worldviews and to understand that a problem or cloudy doubt is relative to the person and his/her environment.  

don’t get me wrong – i love to participate in jovial banter.  but i am also an enthusiast for wandering, philosophical conversation.  those moments when you meet up for a half-hour to chat over coffee but then it turns into a walk which turns into lunch which turns into a beer which turns into dinner which turns into watching the sun come up at 6am.  don’t put a time limit to conversing.   interacting face to face is still the most fascinating (and organic) source for information-gathering.   and don’t forget to keep it at a perfect balance of listening and talking.  deep and meaningful are always two-way.

how to spend time alone.  the difference between solitude and loneliness….what we can learn from the practices of hermitage and retreat from the world…and exploring the unique comfort of solitude.

my thoughts: i write a lot on this topic so i won’t be repetitive.  however, i will close with this: don’t be afraid of seeking solitude every so often in life.  a quiet haven for self-reflection is a beautiful thing.

to learn more or to provoke your own thoughts visit www.schooloflife.com

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kat says:

    Nic, I am deeply moved by this article and amazed by your writing skills… yet again. This is exactly why we’re so close – We share the same views and we think and feel alike. I find myself in what you wrote here. Miss you heaps xxx

    1. you and i, same page my german lovely. missing you heaps too. until our next philosophical D&M, xx.

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