I wish I had met Mark Twain

“A man who doesn’t read has no advantage over a man who can’t read” – Mark Twain #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

As obvious as this seems, I don’t think this is so obvious.

And reading the newspaper doesn’t count here. If anything I believe if newspapers were banned it would make the world a better place.

Does it really matter? I mean reading? Does it help in any way once we leave the ‘learning’ era of our school and college days? I don’t think I can get away by making sweeping aphorisms like Mark Twain, but I can speak for myself.

For one, I believe if we live in the delusional world where learning stops on graduation day then we will soon celebrate graduation day as dooms day.

In college I hoped that to be the case. Graduation day meant no longer having to pour through books to make sure I don’t flunk exams. But little did I know that life itself was a mega-exam inundated with pop quizzes every single day. Both professional and personal life bowling googlies.

The funny thing is, even though there have been no score sheets, I, and I suspect many out there, still want to score well. While the benchmark and the parameters of scoring well vary from individual to individual, my simplistic measure is ‘am I stagnating’ professionally or ‘am I any wiser’ on the personal front.

Life experiences make even people living with their eyes wide shut wiser, but we can’t and don’t want to experience all possible permutations and combinations of life. Exposing myself to varied reading (and lots of pop culture) has helped me understand more about life, the universe and everything more than Arthur Dent could do so even by Hitchhiking through the Galaxy. While I’m a far cry from being wise, a claim which only Yoda and the haloed enlightened deserve, it has definitely given me ammunition to fight the demons in my head and the strength to be myself.

Similarly, I can’t over emphasize the confidence reading has instilled in me to stay true to my vision professionally. In fact sometimes I even wonder how some people get through an entire lifetime with learning only ‘on the job’. It is quite possible that they would be naturally quite insightful, a talent I’m probably lucky not to have, but I think I would’ve gotten along with Mark Twain better than them.

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