More than a cog

It is said that many a philosopher is born the night before his maths exam. There’s nothing like a couple pages of Greek and numbers to get you to complate the point of it all.

Exam mode is truly an altered state of consciousness. Your mind is swimming in a sea of information, and it’s fixated on little else. In the meanwhile, you’ve forgotten to lock your bike, misplaced the keys, and bought everything in the market, except what you set out for.

Life itself is flattened to dates on a calendar. The ticking of the clock gets louder and louder as you race from page to page. Sandwiches are meals, and showers are optional. Even the great joys of song, sunshine and soul mates become secondary things to the new centre of your existence.

You begin to feel like an expendable cog in a massive mill. Sure, you can rationally comprehend the immense benefits of an education, yet somehow, it doesn’t feel like it. Add an unfounded fear of failure, and a sense of nervous unease begins to set in.

To the scores of us still trudging the subterranean coal mine that is exam season, the end is in sight

The trouble probably lies in us having confused our student numbers for our first names. A consequence, perhaps, of that bizarre modern malady of defining people solely by their profession. As if it were not enough to be body, soul and spirit, that we needed one word to sum us up.

Reducing a diploma to a piece of paper, purchased on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis, does it no justice. Rather, we are walking in the footsteps of thousands going back to the Reformation. Enjoying the fruits of a centuries-long enterprise for the truth, and for knowledge.

You’re exposed to entirely new fields of thought, you surprise yourself with what can be accomplished, and you build bonds that’ll last long after it’s all done. That’s enough in itself, certainly? Although, on second thought, a passing grade wouldn’t be half bad either.

To the scores of us still trudging the subterranean coal mine that is exam season, the end is in sight. Soon, we’ll punch out and head back up to the surface, and to summer. No matter how it turns out, we’ll be a few shillings better off, and glad of it.


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