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  • Writer's pictureA.J.N. Gallagher

You know what you know.

Someone once asked me, "What do you know?"

I always thought that was an interesting question. For that would depend on the situation.

We all know things. Sometimes more than others, and at other times less, but when someone has more knowledge on a subject than us, it’s becomes a great opportunity to learn more. I know from personal experience that no matter how much I thought I knew, there was always an opportunity to know more. A quote I once heard captured it beautifully. 'to become more perfect on the subject.'

When I was first employed at my current job, which develops and manufactures telemetry based electronic equipment, the boss asked me, are you keen? I had no real background in electronics, but I was keen, so I said yes.

The people I began to work with are amazing. They come from different backgrounds and have brought their life experiences and their accumulated knowledge with them.

I have learned so much from them, but I quickly learned that my life experiences endowed me with skills I never thought would be used in this area, and although I would never attain to the skills they have, what I did bring, added to the work environment.

I have learned so much from them, and learn more every day, not just about work, but about life, for I am convinced that wherever you go, or whoever you meet, will shape you, and grow you if you ascribe a positive attitude.

I must point out, there were two of vying for the job. The other guy was someone I knew. He was younger, much younger, and had experience with electronics and would have been perfect for the job as well.

I wondered why the boss chose me over someone with years ahead of them and a keen desire to be in the trade. Someone that would grow as the technology around him and the world grow, that would keep up and assimilate the growing technology around him.

I found out later on that I was chosen as I had done joinery work and building, so he thought I would be more useful at the time as he was making upgrades to the building.

The other guy went on to do great things in his field and at one point I tried to get him a job there but his path took a different direction.

It's funny how life works out.

As I got older, the more I realised people are deep wells and only need an opportunity to draw them out. We all have something to learn and always something to share no matter the age. I found that even the most shyest socialite, if there is such a thing, or maybe it's an introvert trapped in an extrovert's world, could bring insight or a point of view if coaxed enough to do so.

I once wrote an obituary for a friend of mine that died in his late eighties. He was like a surrogate granddad to me and taught me a lot about archery, hunting and his life growing up during and after the second world war. He was deaf and was unable to do archery as a drunk driver crippled his body but not his mind. We would spend the days drinking tea, talking, well.. he talked, and I listened. If I needed to say anything I had to write it down from the large piles of notepads on hand.

My final words when he died were that it was like a library had burned down. A library of rare and precious books, first editions that could never be replaced. I was honoured to share and read the books of his life, although sadly, I didn't get to read them all.

1991 The Author and Tiger (Robert) Lockhead

I also found that, opposite to preconceived perceptions, learning isn't limited by age. My friend was still trying to work out how to do things the day he died.

Which brings me to my next story.

I was once asked to do sound at a local venue for a prize giving for a small university and during the course of the evening a gentleman in his early nineties got up to speak. He was a student there and had just completed his degree.

His face shone with the glow of youth as he gave his speech, filled with humour and wit of a sharp mind. I never forgot his smile or the twinkle in his eyes as he let loose his anecdotes of life and learning. Words that said that age is no hindrance to learning for those young enough to take up what is in their heart to do, even for someone as young as a sprightly ninety-year-old.

After the laughter from his closing statement died down, I thought to myself, He was right, there is no expiry date to learn. It's only the world around us that tries to convince us there is.

I even found studies that showed that there are two things that help improve the mind. Exercise and learning something new. Although as you get older exercise will take on a different technique to accomplish that.

I know for myself that as I get older I have to exercise in a way that is easier on the body as I have suffered from back injuries from my past, but I have found that the exercise I do, helps and I'm not prone to the deliberating that would send me to physio.

The interesting thing is the physio lady would give me the same advise each time I was there, as well as a set of exercises to strengthen my core. (Stomach muscles.) I guess I still had a lot to learn, but once I put it into practice, as well as going for regular walks I haven't had to return to physio for a few years.

Over my lifetime, I have had many jobs and met some interesting people along the way. I'm convinced I have not only more to learn but have things I can share with others when the situation arises.

Never be scared to share what you have learned, you never know if what you say will be what the other person needs to hear at that moment in time and lead them on a journey that will take them to where they have always wanted to go.

I know from my own experiences that has been the norm in my life and I hope I have done the same for others. And in the end, Isn’t what we have learned for those around us, to help them as it has helped us.

As I conclude, I would like to add; with what is going on in the world at the moment, there are many people, just like you, who need a kind word, hope, encouragement, and an ear to listen to. It is such a gift to have the technology available to us today, we have the chance to speak into others lives no matter where you are in the world and for us to speak into ours. Let's take the opportunity afforded to us and be the person we would like for others to be for us.

For in the end, when we help others, we help ourselves.

I would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like me to talk on in my coming blogs please email me at

Writing tips / Habits for the month.

Keep a notebook on the nightstand and a little torch to write thoughts and ideas that come in the night.

Even using a phone with a recording app will work just as well. This will also negate the need for a journal, and you will be able to transfer it to your writing project at a more respectable hour.

I have found that if I don't write it down, it will be gone by morning, so I have a quick link to my audio recording app.

Quote for the month.

Be who you are meant to be, and don’t let the past taint your future.

AJN Gallagher

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