Life’s flotsam and jetsam reverberates at this time year. People are looking back on the previous year to reflect on the best, the worst and the most significant. One of the most fascinating retrospectives I watch was the BBC 2013 Moments in Time that explored how smartphones and social media have changed news reporting and how images communicate a powerful and memorable story. What shocked me most was how many of the newsworthy stories I’d forgotten about.
No doubt, the pace of life and the capabilities for modern communication far exceed our capacity and ability to consume it. It’s an exciting time to be alive but with so many choices and options you can get paralysed by the options. Also, chasing down all the possibilities can leave you exhausted and desensitised to those things that really matter in life.
Last year I started to study for a Master’s Degree in Gastronomic Tourism. Aside from all the fascinating perspectives of food – history, culture, communication, production and consumption, what I most learned was I don’t need another master’s degree in my life. Admittedly the programme itself fell woefully short of my expectations in terms of quality of learning experience but mostly I found the study just too superficial. You’d just start to get engrossed in a topic and it was time to move on to another. Despite the wealth of possibilities for online collaboration and interaction, I was mostly studying on my own often not knowing whether I was on the right track or not. My assessment marks suggest I was but high marks didn’t make up for a nagging dissatisfaction with the course itself.
So, without a backward glance I’m dropping out of the course. It pains me to write those words as I hate to give up on things but I feel liberated now to continue my studies more independently. Inspired by this book, I’m still working on plans for how this will unfurl but I’m sure it will still involve plenty of time reading, writing and learning from online materials but without the deadlines that suck the joy out of learning.