In this University no one ever graduates because one never stops learning. There are no qualifications required to enter; there is no age bar because children as well as very senior citizens can register; no degrees are conferred but there are important life-long lessons to be learned which are far more precious than any mere academic achievements that trail one’s name. Admission is free since there are no fees except the price one pays for lessons forgotten. There are no exams! That is so very liberating. And no failures! This is very comforting. You keep on learning at your own pace and you do not have to compete with others for ranks. From this university one emerges not merely literate but educated and enlightened. This University has no real academic branches but you will find it easily all over the world in the remotest countries, cultures and climes. The teaching staff is made up of infants, children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens. They are not paid but offer honorary service very often enlightening their “students” without even at times being aware that they are doing so.
Yesterday, I visited one such “university”. It is funnily called Dog n Bone and is located in the Island Green at Wrexham! I am amazed at children and teenagers today who with such dexterity and wizardry use their cell phones texting and forwarding messages. I am electronically clumsy and dumb. This is a humble and honest confession! I needed to import the data from one cell telephone to another. So I travelled all the way to Wrexham a good five hours round trip from Barmouth on the bus. There I met my favourite “professor” P. He is a young man gifted with wisdom that belies his years. In a matter of moments he sorted things out for me and got all the data I needed to be transferred to the one cell phone I use. Having done that, I asked him whether I needed to change the simple pouch in which the cell phone was encased. His wise reply was: “There is no need. What you have is already good enough!”
That reply kept me pondering. There are so many things I want which I do not really need. Is not this the trap that companies use in subliminal advertising? One has only to enter a shopping mall to discover how customers are enticed to buy clothing, footwear, toiletry and a wide range of domestic gadgets. They make me feel inadequate and, as if to add to my stature, make tempting sales offers. I have learned that people who are tall do not need high heeled shoes. Or much less stilts! Some of these malls call themselves “The One Stop Shop”. Others, to relieve you of the burdensome overload that you have purchased state “You shop. We drop” or “From our store to your door” transporting the items you have bought to your residence.
The University of Life is an open university. One cannot do distance learning because here learning occurs with immediacy. One needs to immerse oneself every day because the lectures here never stop. There are no term breaks. This University continues night and day right through the year. It is saddening to notice that so many who could enter this university remain outside and exclude themselves from the wisdom it has to offer. What is more tragic is that we are all in this university but so few of us are aware of this fact and perhaps fewer having entered into it, emerge educated and enlightened! It is time for them to wake up and smell the coffee!
As I was leaving the Dog n Bone “university”, my “professor” confided in me that he was taking the week-end off because it was his birthday on the following Sunday. I assured him of my prayer. “What shall I pray for”? I asked. He remained silent. “What do you need?” I persisted. With a disarmingly contented smile he replied: “I neither need nor want anything, because I am happy!” He had discovered and found the secret to bliss and beatitude. Indeed, is not happiness an inside job? No one can make me either happy or unhappy except myself. They can make life difficult no doubt. But I need to be alert never to surrender the key to my own happiness to any one. They could easily lock me out! And sometimes they do! I cannot buy happiness in malls. It is inside me. It lies not in having what I want but rather in wanting what I have. As I rode home I travelled light on the bus and I had more than two hours to ponder what my “professor” had taught me: to take stock of what are my wants and what are my needs so as to eliminate the wants and minimise the needs!