The BIG difference: J20 and H20- Mahika M

 

Water. A complex compound which is crucial in order for us to exist, yet we pay it hardly any attention…what is water? What is this miraculous liquid that provides us with so many things? Well, I’ll tell you: it’s much better than J2O, especially in the long run.

Let’s zoom in- look at water on a molecular level. Water, otherwise known as H2O, consists of the atoms Hydrogen and Oxygen, which are covalently bonded to one another. “What does that mean?” you may wonder. Let me explain. Atoms contain a nucleus which has two types of subatomic particles within- the protons and the neutrons- which give an atom it’s mass. They also have “shells”, aka energy levels; these energy levels contain the third type of subatomic particle: electrons. Whoa! Already so much more interesting than J2O.😊

Now most atoms do not have full outer shells, which are generally required in order for the atom to be stable, so naturally they would be unstable and looking for an atom to complete their outer shell. Kind of like the younger generation nowadays. 😉Thus bonds are formed.

Atoms of different elements have different numbers of electrons in their outer shell (just like how all of us are unique and different), meaning that they can all form a certain number of bonds for however many “spaces” they have. For example, Hydrogen has 1 electron in its outermost shell, and it requires 1 more to complete it; Oxygen has 6 electrons in its outer shell, and requires 2 more. If an Oxygen atom were to bond with Hydrogen atoms then they could be stable, just in a molecular form.

So, one day, an Ollie Oxygen met a Hollie Hydrogen and they got to talking…they both found that they had something in common: they both required a full outer shell! So after much deliberation they came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to share their electrons *aww* and stick together- literally. However, they soon realised that being a twosome wasn’t going to work and it (the number of electrons) wasn’t going to be enough, sadly. But then Oxygen came up with a clever idea and said: “Hey Hydrogen, you don’t happen to have a friend who is also suffering from the same problem as you, do you?” And Hydrogen then realised YES! Of course! Hallie Hydrogen! “I do! I can bring her along and we will have enough electrons!!” And that is exactly what happened…so Ollie, Hollie and Hallie lived happily ever after, saving lives and creating life all around the world…kind of like the three musketeers of atoms…

As you can probably guess, after all of that hard work, the three atoms were and still are, incredibly close. This process occurs with many Hydrogens and Oxygens all over the world…and all the molecules come together often, making and breaking Hydrogen bonds- which is rather unusual for liquids. The actual covalent bonds are incredibly strong and hard to overcome, but the intermolecular forces (forces between each individual H2O molecule) are incredibly weak, meaning that water has a low melting and boiling point. Cup of tea, anyone? ☕️

The thing with H2O and its bonding is that it is dipolar! What I mean by this is that when Hydrogen and Oxygen bond, the highly positive Oxygen nucleus pulls the shared electrons in closer, and as a result, making the Oxygen slightly negative. This is what makes a molecule polar but because there are two Hydrogens, the molecule would be called dipolar (not to be confused with bipolar).

Due to the strong dipolar attraction, water is a liquid at room temperature, rather than a gas (like less polar, but similar-sized molecules) as we would know from drinking it. Speaking of, water has very low viscosity, meaning it can flow easily.

The fact that water is a liquid at room temperature can open many things up regarding the uses of H2O; for example: provide habitats for living things in rivers, lakes and seas; form a major component of the tissues in living organisms; provide a reaction medium for chemical reactions and provide an effective transport medium e.g. blood and vascular tissue. You gotta admit- that’s more than J2O will ever do!

Water’s density is quite vital for fish being able to float. But also, so they don’t sink. When most liquids cool, they become more dense, and then become a solid, but with water, things are quite different.

Instead of the top layer freezing, sinking (and taking the fish with it🐠 )and then that whole process repeating until the mass of water is a block of ice, when water temperature drops to 4 degrees Celsius, the molecules align themselves in a structure which is less dense than water! This is the magic of water being polar. Because of this amazing water ability- for ice to be less dense than water– aquatic organisms have a stable environment in which to live through the winter, and ponds and other bodies of water, along with the fish, are insulated against extreme cold (the layer of ice reduces the rate of heat loss from the rest of the pond).

Water is also an incredible solvent; as in, many things can dissolve in water. What actually happens though is when the polar water molecule meets another polar molecule or ionic compound, the positive parts and negative parts are pulled towards one another- you know what they say about opposites attracting– and new bonds are formed (the solute “dissolves” and a solution is formed). Because water is capable of dissolving many things, molecules and ions can move around and react together in it- many of these reactions occur within the cytoplasm of cells (which are over 70% water!). Also, molecules and ions can be transported around living things whilst dissolved in water e.g. glucose, amino acids or vitamins and minerals around our blood- crucial towards our health (more than we can say for J2O…).

Ever seen drops of rain on a flat surface? Notice how the almost-spherical drops don’t spread out? Ever wondered why? Well, I can tell you why. It’s because of the hydrogen bonds between the molecules, pulling them closer- an example of: cohesion. The hydrogen atoms on the surface are bonded to the molecules underneath them as well, meaning they are more attracted to the water molecules underneath than the air molecules above. Because of this, the water contracts and gives water an ability to resist force applied to it- whoa! We call this surface tension.

Surface tension allows columns of water in plant vascular tissue to be pulled up to the xylem tissue together from the roots, and insects, like pond-skaters, can walk on water! Lucky lil bugs.

Let’s move on to the hot topic: water’s high specific heat capacity. What is specific heat capacity? Specific heat capacity is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1kg of a substance by 1 degree Celsius. Water temperature is a measure of the kinetic energy of the water molecules; the hydrogen bonds keep the molecule held tightly together, therefore a high amount of thermal energy is required in order to increase their kinetic energy and temperature. But let’s go to H2O- water requires 4.2kJ of energy to raise 1kg of it by 1 degree Celsius; resulting in water having the property of not heating up or cooling down very quickly.

And, as we know, water is a component of many living things, plus it can often make up the habitat of some of these living things, making it and its high specific heat capacity very important. Living things, including prokaryotes and eukaryotes, need a stable temperature for enzyme-controlled reactions to happen properly. Aquatic organisms also need a stable environment in which to live.

We know water is more than helpful for us and other animals, but did you know water is also helpful towards itself?! Heat energy, now known as the latent heat of vaporisation, helps water molecules to break away from each other to become a gas during evaporation- helpful! Right? The super-strong Hydrogen bonds refuse to be broken easily, so a large amount of energy is required for water molecules to evaporate.

But how is this relevant to us? For homeostasis, my friend. Yes, when we sweat (for example, when we run), the sweat soon evaporates; and this happens so we cool down! (which means we don’t constantly have a headache). Similarly, plants are cooled when water evaporates from mesophyll cells- cool, no?

Now, lets zoom out…as you can tell by now, water is clearly more complex than you previously thought. But lets admit it: water is GREAT – more than we can say for J2O. But that’s another story….

Let’s raise a glass to H2O. Cheers!

 

More about Mahika: Hi! I’m Mahika. I am 17 years old and currently up to no good studying in Sixth Form. I like to think in a scientific and analytical way,  much to the annoyance of my poor mother, whom I treat as if she is an encyclopaedia of facts! However, I love artistic expression and practice it often through art, singing, dance etc… But what’s even better is the satisfaction I get from combining the two; writing in an artistic form whilst talking about science! I hope you also get the same satisfaction from my little essay on water, and learn something new today. 😊

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A story of many strands – Becca Robbins

 

I have always had a deep passion for crafts. One of the first skills I learned, at the age of seven or eight, was knitting.

I love everything about knitting: that physical frisson of excitement felt on just seeing a selection of new yarns, sensing the creative potential they conceal; its hypnotic rhythm, the click of busy needles, that magical manipulation of a length of fibre into something tangible to be shared (sometimes not! 😆), the wonder when I stop to look at my progress in a project and the Joy in its completion, knowing that the whole is dependent on each and every stitch, that one stitch cannot exist without its “neighbours” and that together they are a beautiful collaboration to be enjoyed and to be loved ❤️ So the cycle begins again …

In July I visited a local yarn festival, Fibre East. From the moment I arrived and made my way to the entrance, excitement was already building as groups of visitors chatted to one another along the way. I chuckled to overhear someone say, in the context of a discussion about being interrupted as she worked on a project, “Back off! I’m knitting!”. Peals of laughter ensued amongst her companions. So the joyful tone was set for what was to be a glorious day bathed in sunshine, immersed in an endless sea of colour and texture, temptation dangling before me like a fisherman’s bait … and I was hungry!

I had recently enrolled for an international wool and yarn online seminar featuring ten of the hottest knitted fibres designers from around the globe. We patiently, and with mounting anticipation, awaited the release for sale of exclusive, hand-dyed skeins produced especially for the two week event and a rush to buy them was the main topic of conversation online. On the day the first release of these Knit Stars yarns became available I was fortunate to be at home when the email was sent. I went straight to the online store and even went so far as to pick out a couple of skeins I liked. For a number of reasons I decided to restrain myself and not dive in. Later that day, I had another look but decided not to buy. I opted to follow my habitual mantra, “Dare to be different” and put my trust in the hands of the yarn angels to bring me what I would need.

Certainly Fibre Fest did not disappoint. There were dozens of independent dyers with their wares proudly on display, a veritable feast for the eyes of any yarn enthusiast. Knitters, weavers, spinners demonstrated their skills. The positive energy was palpable: there is just something about this craft that catches the imagination, a happiness, a Joy entangled inextricably in threads destined for handmade things of beauty.

I sat and marvelled at a demonstration of hand shearing by a gentleman from New Zealand and pondered the fact that I was one of the first to ever see the inside of the glistening, golden fleece as it tumbled onto the stage. I reflected on the journey this luscious fibre would now take as indeed had all of the yarns for sale in the nearby marquees. From raw material to finished product, each skein had a story to tell, so many and so varied were the indie dyers present.

I spent ages just looking at the wares, appreciating the efforts that had gone into making them all come into being, the hours spent devotedly teasing fleece or plant matter into irresistible yarns. Now those yarns awaited new hands that would, in turn, gently coax them towards their destiny.

When I had bought my ticket at the door I’d noticed a beautiful flower arrangement, a great big, yellow bath duck. I was told that it was to honour a much-loved, young exhibitor of previous years who had passed away very suddenly, very unexpectedly a few months ago. Eventually I made my way to the stand that had once been the pride of this same young designer. Her family and friends were there, bravely selling all remaining skeins and I knew then that any purchase I made that day would be from this, the last remaining Sparkleduck range.

I had an opportunity not only to buy something unique but to honour and indeed remember the young lady through whose hands these yarns had so lovingly passed. This moved me enormously at the time and even now, I feel my eyes prick with tears at the thought that never again would her heart leap at the first sight of the yarns as she tenderly created them. Never again would she rejoice in sending them on their soft and colourful way to bring happiness to so many.

With those yarns I purchased each stitch I loop around my needles will give me cause to reflect on so many emotions. Bereavement in my close family has taught me to lead a life filled with Joy, adventure and discovery. I hope also that these emotions will inspire me infinitely in my creative practice, that the ensuing shawls will prompt discussions to keep the designer’s legacy alive and who knows, maybe even spark in another, a new interest in that beautiful craft for which I have a deep affection.

After making my purchase I sat on the grass in the field, surrounded by huge molehills and had my lunch and a cup of tea. With precious cargo at my side, the subterranean mammals digging blissfully unaware beneath me and the sun shining warmly on my face I was thankful for life and all the opportunities and potential therein.

For me, art and crafts are a means of drawing together the complex strands of life, a way of expressing their meaning to me in a concrete form, that in turn makes room for the inevitable wave of inspiration that falls perpetually at my cerebral shore. It has a rhythm all its own that never ceases, never waits for “the right moment” to present itself. It is a blessing for which I am ever and always grateful. It is a veritable Möbius loop of mental twists and turns, like stitches around a needle (be careful you don’t drop one!) ❤️ So begins the artist’s cycle once more …

 

Becca in her own words:”Creativity is fundamental to who I am. I have been a Flight Attendant for almost 25 years but primarily I am an artist, and have been all my life. Bombarded with inspiration by all of my senses, I express those sensations most effectively through my art practice. This can take the form of digital photography, designing textiles and more recently in writing, which allows me to paint a vivid, detailed picture in ways that, for me, the spoken word cannot. Someone once asked me, “Art? What are you going to do with that?”. The truth is, I cannot imagine being without it .”

Guest Blog month

In November, I am taking a back seat and letting some wonderfully creative people take over my blog for a change.

Writing is very much a collaborative effort. When I write something, it is based upon not just my own thought processes, but also what is fed into my mind through all that I read or watch or have discussions with other people about. Similarly, you as the reader, become a part of that collaboration by choosing to read my blog, commenting upon it, and sharing it with your extended circle.

Within my extended circle as well I have come across people who lead such rich and varied lives. I love reading their posts on social media. They are expressive, erudite and eloquent. I always come away with a fresh insight when I read what they write. And so, I have invited them to my chosen platform, and asked them to share a slice of their lives, be it in the form of an experience, an article or a poem.

I do hope you enjoy this smorgasbord, as much as I have enjoyed compiling it.

Finale

One year later, another experiment is complete. As I said in my last blog post, I would explain all, and indeed I will, including the link that binds these stories to one another. However, before I begin, I have to give credit where credit is due. To you, my dear reader.

As a part time writer, I love putting my thoughts, ideas and imagination into black and white for your consumption. Sometimes however, you surprise me with the depth of your acuity. You read meanings where I might not have imagined them. You peel off layers that surprise even me. You savour my stories and make them into a far more delicious feast than I, the creator, had first devised them. It is in your joy, your appetite and your enthusiasm that I find my fulfilment. Thank you!

Now, back to the stories, and the link between them.

Amongst the various responses that I received, one in particular stood out. This lovely reader pinpointed what she thought was the link. A link that does exist, but one that I hadn’t set out in planning. That link is betrayal. Yes, when I re read the stories, it was glaringly obvious that each of them had some form of betrayal in them. In Veritas it is a cheating wife, in Sakura it is a person cheated of love and identity, in Umami the betrayal is of friendship and trust, in Funk of guardianship, and finally, in Saudade, of the self. Betrayal looms large and underpins all of the narratives. So, kudos to my perceptive reader!

However, that was never the theme behind these stories. In fact, the link that I did have in mind, is so tenuous that it is entirely possible to miss it altogether. In my five stories- Veritas, Umami , Sakura ,  Funk and Saudade – I explored the five senses of sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. Not at once apparent, are they? But bear with me.

Notice that in Veritas (Experiment Series 2- Part 1), almost everything relates to the sense of sight. From looking into the mirror of her conscience, to holding the gaze of her tormentor, to finally finding forgiveness in the eyes of Clementia, the protagonist processes her guilt and her redemption primarily through the eyes of her mind.

In Umami (Experiment Series 2- Part 2), there is the unusual flavour of roadkill that develops into the bitter after taste of an unplanned but thoroughly vicious revenge.

In Sakura (Experiment series 2- part 3), touch first awakens desire and love in the protagonist. In the end, it is in a loved one’s touch that there is a gentle acceptance of Fate and mortality.

In Funk (Experiment Series 2- Part 4), smells abound. From Auntie JJ’s lavender to Chi-chi’s farts to the stench of Gul’s desperation.

In Saudade- Experiment Series 2 Part 5, it is the absence of sound that afflicts Kevin. He cannot, for the life of him, recall the sound of his mother’s heartbeat. In searching for the one thing that would give meaning to his existence, his futile quest leads him into the arms of his own destruction.

So, there you have it. The tenuous link laid bare.

Perhaps some of you picked up on the one word titles I bestowed upon my stories as well. Veritas is Latin for truth. I chose this from the Latin phrase of vincit omnia veritas (truth conquers all things). Umami and Sakura are both Japanese in origin. Umami,of course, stands for the fifth taste- a savoury, meaty flavour. Sakura is simply the more elegant word for cherry blossoms. Funk has a two fold meaning. One covers my theme of smell, but the other describes the mood of the heroine, who is in a desperate, dejected state of funk. Saudade, my favourite title, in dictionary terms is described as (in Portuguese folk culture) a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent. Haven’t we all felt saudade at some point in our lives? There is no English word for it, yet, it’s meaning is undoubtedly universal.

In this experiment I once again explored genres, themes, cultures and voices that I wasn’t automatically comfortable in. Maybe some of that discomfort was apparent, as not all the stories were well received. But that’s alright. Not every arrow hits bulls eye. Besides, tastes are subjective, and one man’s umami may well be someone else’s funk.

All I can ask of you, dear reader, is to return to the table. Perhaps the next course will be to your liking?

 

Postlude

Just over a year ago I’d set myself the challenge of another storytelling experiment Experiment 2. At the time I assumed that it wouldn’t take me more than a few months to complete all my stories. Of course I hadn’t reckoned on life scuppering all those best laid plans. As I got involved in various projects at work, juggled home duties, parental responsibilities and an incredibly full social calendar, writing seemed to slip further and further down the totem pole. Oh I could quite easily shoot off a thought piece, with minor edits and minimal tweaking. But writing fiction is rather like trying to produce a baby. When things go smoothly, labour is still painfully laborious. However, some babies are breech, and have to be coaxed into position. Some stories are equally difficult to birth. Here the labour is fraught with difficulty and you enter a whole other world of extra agony.

Thus it took me a year to produce these babies. Not all were liked or well received. Yet each of them is dear to me, as each baby is to his/her mother.

At the time I had started the experiment, I had mentioned that there would be a link between these stories. A link that I didn’t want to make too obvious. I’d thrown down the gauntlet to my regular readers to guess the link. I am, once again, listing all my stories here. Let me know (in whichever fashion you like- comments, personal messages, inbox) if you have managed to figure out what that link is. Good luck and happy reading!

Veritas (Experiment Series 2- Part 1)

Umami (Experiment Series 2- Part 2)

Sakura (Experiment series 2- part 3)

Funk (Experiment Series 2- Part 4)

Saudade- Experiment Series 2 Part 5

 

Saudade- Experiment Series 2 Part 5

Last night I went dream walking with my mother. She held my hand as we walked. She let me rest my head against her chest, under the old oak tree. I listened to the beat of her heart- dup dup, dup dup, dup dup. Then I woke up.

Humanoids are not meant to dream. They eliminated that error in subsequent generations. They pretty much eliminated sleep too. I am First Gen- HMF1. The experimental generation. The generation that is slowly dying out or being eradicated. The guinea pigs of the Humanoid race.

We are not the Humanoids of History. Machines that were meant to imitate human form and behaviour. In the 22nd Century, they seem so basic, so amateurish, they are almost laughable. Our DNA is far more complicated than that. We were the first generation that had technology incorporated with designer human DNA. We could feel all the good human emotions like love, empathy and gratitude but be free of all the bad ones like hatred, jealousy and anger. We were the epitome of Bio tech engineering. The pinnacle of HumTech evolution. Or so they thought.

They didn’t factor in loneliness, despair or saudade.

The scientists that created us are long gone. Dead for over fifty years. Our longevity is debatable. We were meant to live for 200 years or more. But at around 80 most of us started to develop kinks. Some ‘fell off’ bridges, others ‘fell asleep’ on train tracks. A handful of us survived. They still haul us into the lab for tests. Psychometric tests they say. We know they are not. Those of us that display the start of any kind of human eccentricities or foibles are marked for elimination. It is swift and painless I hear. Maybe it would be a relief. Except that, in my Humanoid heart, I also harbour the human will to survive and the human capacity for deception.

It helps that they haven’t developed a test for saudade. There is no English word for it. In Portuguese it’s a mixture of longing, melancholy and nostalgia. A feeling of loss, of wanting to go back to a state of…. what? This is the question that has kept me awake the last 90 years. What am I nostalgic for? Who do I miss? Where do I want to go back to?

My dream last night cracked open the door to an answer.

We were conceived in petri dishes. We were embryos in artificial wombs. We grew and developed, surrounded by the hum of machines. Then why do I miss my mother’s heartbeat?

 

*

“Kevin”, the HMF9 named Clara calls out to me.

“Present”, I beep to her, and she swiftly marks me off her digital board. I look around at the half a dozen of us here for our quarterly tests. Most are familiar faces. We show no outward signs of ageing. We were all meant to get to the optimum age of 25, and then stop physically maturing. Inside, most of us are pushing a 120. There is a weariness about us that Clara lacks. She is still perky, still in her peak. Maybe they eliminated the weariness too?

I nod at Ashwin. Him of the dark complexion and indeterminate origin. I wish we’d spoken more, had had a chance to connect when we were younger. Except, back then, we were too busy performing. Being the supreme HumTech beings that our indolent creators, the humans, wanted us to be. We had filled the gap in the market. The gap that had been created by the absence of labour, and the affluence that was widespread after the Great War had nearly destroyed the world.

Mankind, in all its wisdom, had decided that in its recovery from the ravages of war, there would be no more differences between the rich and the poor. Religion was eradicated, as were borders. Everything was distributed equally : from food to wealth to education. A Utopian society of compeers.

A society like that needs slaves to keep the masters happy. And so, we were designed. As the HMF1 we did really well the first 70 years of our existence. So well that 8 further generations were designed, each one superior to the one before. 

HMF9 are apparently so good that humans have started to elevate them to companions and partners. As the last of the First Gen Humanoids, we are only around for nostalgia sake, and do very little anyhow. Our capacities have depleted and our speeds slackened over the years.

Ashwin tilts his head to indicate the stranger in our midst. She is incredibly beautiful. That I noted within the first three seconds of setting eyes on her. There is a certain hauteur to her. She carries herself as though she is privy to knowledge that none of us have. I feel a bizarre pull towards her. I do not act upon it.

There is a strange inevitability to the fact that we are paired with each other.

We walk into the lab together in silence. We sit side by side. They start with the usual tests on the terminals. We answer the questions with silent clicks. Then we are laid on parallel beds as they poke and prod us, and check our vitals. Finally, they show us a series of films to monitor our reactions. I laugh and cry and squirm at the appropriate moments. I feel none of these emotions. I want to scream, and bang my head against the wall. I want to pull every wire out of every console and smash every bit of machinery in here. Instead I smile, and pretend to be alarmed when the image of some pre historic monster appears on the screen. I have become very good at deceiving.

She sits very still showing no emotion whatsoever.

I watch her from the corner of my eye. Is she damaged goods? Is this deliberate? Does she want to self destruct? For if she doesn’t respond as she’s meant to, there can only be one outcome for her.

I can no longer bear it. When the techs are distracted by something I give her hand a warning squeeze. Momentarily startled, she looks at me, her eyes wide. I try to convey through mine how important it is for her to play along. To pretend she is still a functioning Humanoid. She smiles at me sadly, and something inside me twists.

 

*

Later that night they come for me. I am led into the room where she is. She sits cross legged in the centre. Her hair is parted in the middle and flowing down to her waist. She has a red dot on her forehead, and her eyes, those extraordinary eyes, are lined with kohl. There is a simulated oak tree behind her. They place my head on her chest, and I hear the familiar dup dup, dup dup,dup dup.

All at once, it makes sense. They knew. They knew all along. She had been planted to catch me out. In trying to save her, I managed to implicate myself.

So this is where my story ends. It is not a bad end after all. My masters in their infinite compassion have made sure that my saudade is laid to rest forever.

I barely feel the scratch of the needle, as I fall asleep in my pseudo-mother’s arms. I hear her final whisper, “Go in peace, my son”.

I am finally home.

 

THE END

©Poornima Manco 2017

 

Just a number

When I was just a chit of a girl, I thought life ended at 40. You were meant to have done it all by then: Career, travel, marriage, babies, hobbies, accomplishments. I mean 40 was Old. Surely, life’s trajectory would start to power down. Right?

Wrong.

Now, I find myself on the other side of 40, and laugh at my infantile vision of the future. Sure, I’ve done the career, travel, marriage, babies and hobbies thing. But accomplishments. That I’m only just getting started on.

There is a lot going for youth. For one thing, you have time on your side. There is an expanse of a lifetime waiting to be discovered, to be explored and enjoyed. Also, all your faculties are pretty much intact. You can still hear and see, and soak up knowledge and information like a sponge. Your memory hasn’t taken a beating yet. Your hair is thick, your skin is supple and your body is limber. You are admired by men of all ages. Your personality is not set in stone, and your innocence still shines through attractively. Yes, youth is a valuable currency indeed.

What youth doesn’t have on its side are wisdom and experience.

It’s been oft repeated that “Youth is wasted on the young”. I’d like to think that youth is just a rehearsal for the main event. Can you imagine a world where age and maturity had no standing whatsoever? Where youth and naiveté governed everything? Where everyone was put out to pasture at 40? Shudder!

I remember when aged 18 and supremely confident of my intelligence and looks, I’d joined a Foreign Language course. Amongst the predominantly youthful class, one person stood out. He was a pensioner over 60. Our initial surprise was soon overtaken by his charisma, his enthusiasm and his desire to learn. Needless to say, he was a star pupil. I learned then that age was no bar to scholarship or edification.

Even as I set about living my life: finding a job I loved, a man I loved and discovering through the years, the joys of parenthood, I realised how facile my initial timeline had been. I had been trying to condense my life within parentheses, when true living had commas and exclamation marks and paragraphs that ebbed and flowed and sometimes crashed into one another.

Whilst all those initial milestones of my imagining were secured, it was the lesser moments, the ellipses of my living that made the story of my life a rich and colourful one. I realised that no matter how old I got, I could still carry on learning and exploring. I could still diversify. I could still re create and re imagine myself. I could be student and mentor. I could inspire and be inspired. I could marvel at the accomplishments of a 20 year old just as I could at a 50 year old’s. The only limits were the ones that I imposed upon myself.

With that in mind, I choose to live my life with gusto. My manifesto is to try and experience everything (within reason). I pursue my hobbies with the same passion that I give to my career. I try and be a good partner, a good parent and a good friend.
My mantra is to live life to the fullest. If I fail, I pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. What’s the worst that can happen? I will fail again. So what?

When that full stop comes, as it inevitably will, I want the book of my life to be a worthwhile read.