But then something changed at school.
He’d always been a fast learner, always picked up the most useful information
when he needed it. He had a sixth sense for everything that was relevant
outside the book, and knew when the next lecture was due with the
corresponding buzz in his brain. He had an incredible aptitude for numbers,
and his favourite class was on probability.
But he hadn’t learned algebra or calculus. He hadn’t mastered trigonometry,
and he didn’t understand probability. He didn’t know how to do complex
probability with probability tables. He was a bit of a blank slate, and to
make matters worse, he was a slow student.
He was an average kid, despite being able to pick up the most
useful information and apply it to a wide variety of subjects. He thought he
would always study hard and get a job in the field he loved, because he was
good at his job. He had a lot of confidence in his abilities, and had never
really given his self-worth much thought beyond trying to improve his grades
And then one day he came home from school, and he knew he had to do something
about his study techniques. He was good at his job, but he lacked motivation.
His father was quite patient with him. He wasn’t a patient person himself; he
would scream in frustration at his employees when they fell into holes or
miscalculated. And he never yelled at Tommy in front of his brother. His
brother was angry. He was a good worker, and Tommy had no reason to doubt his
ability, but he didn’t know how to motivate himself. He was always
over-confident. He thought he knew it all, and he was always working on his
writing, when really all he knew was that he needed to learn more.
So a week later, Tommy sat in his parents’ living room, feeling overwhelmed
and a little despondent. He thought about the times he had over-estimated,
and had to admit that was only the past few months. He was a natural leader,
a strong personality, but he had his flaws. He didn’t really have a backup plan
if this study technique failed to work. There was nothing to do but to just
keep going, try to get it right, and stay on top of his work.
His dad sat, calmly watching him work, his face almost imperceptible as he
worked away at the laptop computer. He was about to let him have a week off,
but he didn’t like him having days off when he was in such a bad state. Tommy
was a strong, intelligent, and caring man, but he was still an average kid,
and in his own way he was a terrible father. He would make him work
desperately, and then yell at him just because he couldn’t complete his work.
Tommy had decided this was the time he needed to change something. Why would
he ever get back to his average, boring life from his average, boring life
without studying? Why would he ever get an easy A*s grade if he didn’t take
the time to study? Why would he ever get an A in a subject if he didn’t try?
He would never be a great athlete. He would never be an academic genius. Those
things didn’t even really matter. All he needed was to become just average,
which wouldn’t be bad at all, because nothing he was learning at school was
really going to help him. He could learn all there was to know from reading
books, and he could become great at it as well.
So he went to the library and bought as many books as he could get his hands
on. He didn’t need a lot of books. What he needed was the kind of mind they
all had, the ability to take in a lot of information, and make a connection
in his mind between the information and a topic he liked, all before even
reading the book. He had to become a genius. He had to learn from reading, and
he had to read, and he had to study hard. He only had a week left, but what
could he do? He had homework after school. He had to stay in top form, because
he had homework.
So he went to the library and bought every book he could on his favourite
subject. He tried to read all of them with no more than a single skim through
because he really couldn’t think of anything that was more important; so he
only read a few lines and skipped the whole book. He bought them all, by the
hundreds, but he only made a selection and read the selected parts. He tried
to stay away from fiction, but couldn’t. He tried to make his mind blank
throughout the entire reading process. He had his own plan. He would try to
learn from books, and at the same time take in as much information from the
people around him as possible.
A week of work took him to the edge of his limit. When he had enough food to
satisfy his body, and not too much time to spare for studying, he went to
work. He finished all of the books he had bought, and studied as much as he
could, but he had no idea if he’d ever be able to learn anything.
He couldn’t just let the book pass him by. There was no shame in it, it was
not something to be ashamed of, it was just a book. He wasn’t supposed to
read it, he was supposed to write it, and this was supposed to be an act of
the mind, not an act of the mind that his body took over. And that’s where
the problem started.
His mind started to drift, and he started to try to push the thoughts aside
with any of the countless things he could do in his mind. He tried to push
them all off, just like a physical exercise that your muscle was trying to
push a heavy weight with no chance of it being stopped, off just because you
didn’t want to hold its attention. He did this for as long as he could, until
his brain finally gave up and left his body as the heavy weight moved by,
but not before him.
He was on the edge of his limit after having put so much pressure on his
brain; and after having tried everything he could think of, he gave up. It
was time to just go back to the average life he had and read more books and
get to bed earlier.
And that’s when it happened. It happened like a bolt of lightning from a clear,
cloudless sky. It was sudden, it was strong, it was overwhelming, and it was