MANY years ago, my maternal grandmother, a woman far ahead of her time and who remains one of the cleverest people I have ever encountered, paid me a compliment although I was so young at the time I didn't have a clue what she meant.
She told me I would enjoy life, and do okay for myself because I had "an enquiring mind".
It's a phrase that stuck and these days with the knowledge of what she meant, I have often reflected on what she said.
An enquiring mind probably led me, in a roundabout way, into journalism because without one you are wasting your time.
But more than that, having an enquiring mind sets you on a path to discover the world and sets in place the special interests that can bring much joy and satisfaction to life.
In a way, it is the difference between watching decent television and frittering away your life on soap operas; it's the point of difference between those who read and learn and those who wander about in a state of semi-ignorance.
My special interests are so diverse that I am often at a loss to join up the dots.
Apart from my wife, kids and grandkids and my love of gardening, rugby and racing try this list for size.
I have had a lifelong interest in American Indians to the extent I have studied the history of most tribal bands, know a smattering of some of the languages and have paid visits to some of the tribal homelands.
Linking that up with my passion for Mozart is tough, isn't it? He is the only composer I am the slightest bit interested in and I love not only his music but also reading about the life of this remarkable genius.
Try marrying that up with my thirst for American Civil War history, my passion for Ned Kelly which caused me to shift to Victoria and spend two years visiting the Kelly Gang sites and last -- but not least -- my fascination with one particular Nazi war criminal, the infamous Adolf Eichmann.
So that's me in a nutshell and I am sure my list of special interests can be matched by many readers who enjoy the pursuit of equally diverse topics.
Actually, I know this to be so because I belong to a loose-knit brains trust -- for use of a better term -- that convenes most Friday afternoons in the public bar of the Horse and Hound. What a fountain of knowledge they are.
Two retired schoolteachers who drink pints of Export 33, a sports editor semi-addicted to cider, an editor who flushes his system with ginger beer, a retired expert on shifting gravel from A to B and who sits on a small glass of ale, an entertainment guru and his multi-lingual son who also sup Export 33 and me, a recent convert to Monteith's black.
I admit the conversation can become a little raucous at times, as other regulars in the bar will readily attest, but the range of topics astounds me.
Just a week or so back, we became locked in a discussion on the military achievements of Alexander the Great interspersed with references to the Duke of Wellington, the SPCA, the fate of seal colonies round the Wairarapa coast, the value of being able to speak Mandarin, likely winners of the rugby World Cup, prospects for Saturday horse racing and arguments over whose shout it was.
We were going to debate TTPA but when our two retired schoolteachers couldn't distinguish TTPA from PPTA that debate was called off.
All the members of the Horse and Hound brains trust are obviously blessed with enquiring minds and often we have to field enquiries from other bar patrons who pose questions such as "what the hell's all the racket about?"
One thing is for sure, it's far healthier gathering on a Friday afternoon sharing information on important topics and displaying our knowledge of special interests than being glued to a rubbish TV programme or rabbiting away on the mis-named "social media".