Towards the end of 2018, there was one comment that seemed to be on loop.

I’m sick of going through the motions. I want to understand. I don’t want to do another year like this.

I wonder if it’s inevitable that we all reach a point where we need more. More depth, more context, more soul.

Consider rabbits. Pet or pest? If you live in NSW, your opinion is likely that they make quite good pets. Cute little buggers really. If you live just across the border in Qld, you think pest. Same animal, completely different opinion. If you’re only interested in the answer, pet or pest, then where you are located, who you speak to and the decision-making metrics they use become game-changers.

If you have a collection of symptoms and present to your GP in the UK, you might receive a diagnosis of Lyme disease. Same symptoms but visit a GP in Australia and you’ll likely receive a different answer. If the arrival of a sh*tty low back and turning 40 coincided, then you might be content to link the two and deal with the pain. Pop some pills. Whatever.

In October 2018, I found myself caught up in this same depth lacking wheel of motion. I had a huge uni semester which culminated in an exam. The exam was based on a 507 page textbook, the A to Z of pathological diseases. It was a ridiculous amount of information to learn and time wasn’t on my side. I decided to memorise as much as I could and hedge my bets on what they wouldn’t ask.

My plan resulted in a fail. First one ever. It seems gout is far more common than I gave it credit for.

The problem was that my eyes were fixed on exam answers, not deepening my understanding. So with a luxurious six weeks before the exam re-sit, I formulated a new plan that didn’t involve memorising or hedging bets. I worked out patterns. I looked for similarities. I ended up with all the info on two A3 sheets.

Pattern 1: an excess of something in the body
Pattern 2: a lack of something
Pattern 3: the death of something
Pattern 4: something adapts into something else
Pattern 5: something new develops

I nailed the re-sit but what’s more important is that I a) know everything there is to know about gout purely out of spite and b) remember, understand and can reapply the patterns.

Perhaps one of the big culprits for us no longer asking after the who, why and how, the patterns and the rhythms is that we’re all time poor. Perhaps we get into the habit of not concerning ourselves with the back story, we just need to conquer the front end. Maybe at some point we forget there is a back story.