Musings Of An Autodidact

Musings Of An Autodidact

Autodidact: a self-taught person.

That’s what I consider myself these days. I feel I have learnt much more in my 30’s than I have learnt in the entire course of my formal education of 20 years.

First there was my fitness. I went to great depths to research paleo and later on ketogenic lifestyle. I understood all the science and could write multiple blog posts on the subject.

Then my kids happened. I was already living the natural lifestyle and researched homebirth, breastfeeding, and babywearing to obsessive extents and wouldn’t rest till I knew as much as possible, and even made it my profession for a bit.

Then my older kid made me into a psychologist and I did multiple specializations on human psychology and indepth reading of over 80 books trying to understand his brain. All this without any formal certifications, though I am sure I can give qualified child psychologists and therapists a run for their money.

Which brings me to this phase.

I am now chilling.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am chilling they look at me funny, then they give me an uncomfortable laugh and say ‘ hey I am sure it’s tough to raise two kids, how old are your boys?’ then they say, ‘maybe once they’re both to school full day’. At which point I feel like saying, what’s wrong with chilling? Isn’t that what we all pay money for and go off to holidays for so we can take a picture of a book against a beautiful background?

But in seriousness, apart from trying to raise reasonable humans who will look back on their time with me with hopefully good memories for the most part and not with resentment and complexes the way most of us look at our time with our parents – I read. The above is unbelievably tough to do. If I go through one day without an incident that has scarred them for life I am lucky. If they go through life avoiding therapy thanks to my mothering I’d consider it an achievement.

And for that I need to show up EVERYDAY as my most authentic self. And that best self, at least for me because that’s how I tick needs A LOT of space and time for my own brain cells to work in ways that make me happy. Again for me that means getting deeply entrenched into whatever it is I am interested in at the moment.

I went to Agra completely unplanned for the first time last September. it was a quick detour while on way to the Mathura train station when I went to Bharatpur bird sanctuary with my son (read about our travels here). Who doesn’t know the story about the Taj Mahal? However being in the space made me want to know everything I could about these people who lived and breathed in these lands once.

In December I started reading the Taj Mahal trilogy by Indu Sunderesan. The first two books, The Twentieth Wife and a Feast of Roses is the fictionalized story of Nur Jahan and emperor Jahangir the father of Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal for his wife. It’s historical fiction at its best where the historical facts are accurate but the story is imagined. The third book, Shadow Princess, skips Shah Jahan and Mumtaz and picks up where she dies and focuses on Shah Jahan’s oldest daughter Jahanara.

From there I read a book purely history / no fiction, a biography of Dara Shukoh, the oldest son of Shah Jahan who was poised to be emperor until he was rudely beheaded by Aurangzeb his third brother. I even attended a talk by the author of the book last week, Supriya Gandhi.

Supriya Gandhi talking about her book.

Empress by Ruby Lal which is a feminist biography of Nur Jahan is next up, as is The Last Mughal and Anarchy by William Darymple.

All these pure history and I’m in nerdy heaven.

Which makes me think about:

How when I was younger, in school, college, as a young woman, history didn’t reach out and touch me this way. I could not appreciate it.

How I wasn’t ready to read about this then because I am ready now.

How when my father talked to me about the world wars I thought he was irrelevant and I was bored silly.

How irrelevant formal curriculums can be when in my heart I was always an insatiable lifelong learner, though my report cards paint a completely different picture.

How I have read three books on unschooling and I’m oh so tempted but oh so afraid.

How I only started enjoying learning in my 30’s.

When I am free and chilling.

*All the book links are amazon affiliate links, which means I make money if you click through here and buy. Cough hint hint.