As a child I travelled around a great deal with my parents ... going from town to town, rarely finding the time to develop friendships or the skills needed to socialise effectively.
Why I seek solace in solitude
So it's no surprise that during this time -- and with very strong parents who had equally strong attitudes -- I developed a less-than-typical outlook on life.
These factors -- together with settling in an outer suburb that had a very close, and often closed, community at the age of 10 -- caused me significant grief.
I had one or two very good friends, but never the quantity of friends needed to stage a successful birthday party. I blame no one for this. It was simply the case.
This changed a little in my teenage years, as I moved to a much larger school with a greater diversity of students. I was more able to find people that I had things in common with, people who shared a similar view of the world. Even when we did not see eye to eye, they too gained some solace from not from being distinctive.
However, my lack of social skills endured, continuing to create issues in terms of my capacity to establish new relationships and sustain existing ones.
As I matured and my parents had more influence on me, I became less and less concerned about the fact that I did not fit in, and took more and more solace from my points of difference and refusal to be a member of a crowd, or crowds I respected less and less.
When I look back I can see the enormous impact that my parents, particularly my father, had on me in terms of teaching me that the two most important things in life were values and thinking.
Values are what a person stands for and must always seek to live by, and those values must come from within, not from an external source. Thinking -- particularly socratic thinking, which is objective, critical and lateral -- is what moves humanity forward.
I came to learn that values are what gives an individual substance.
That said, values borrowed from others, or even a book, take away from the substance of a human being. Substance comes from searching your heart, considering all that life is, rejecting what you want and standing for something that all the evidence tells you is right.
Substance also requires a sincere effort to live by your values no matter the cost, and without ever excusing yourself by referring to your humanity. It requires moral courage, one of the rarest commodities on earth.
Jerry Springer, whom I rarely agree with, said: ''We are all born as empty vessels which can be shaped by moral values.'' He was right!
Thinking, contrary to popular belief, is not a natural process. It requires a discipline, a rejection of what we may want to be true, of hearsay, of emotion, or anything for which there is not adequate evidence. It requires the capacity to unemotionally construct a point of view, irrespective of what others think or may say.
The ability to think well is learned and requires an integrity few have -- but that far more could have. It also requires effort, something few are prepared to put in.
Bertrand Russell said: ''Most people would rather die than think, and most people do.'' He was right!
In my adulthood, I deeply value my values (which I question every day) and thinking (the skills for which I try to hone every day). I value them more than any other aspect of myself -- and devote more resources to, and continue to work on, this aspect more than any other.
But around me, I see a society that would rather idolise athetes and celebrities than look to their own values; where people vote based on what is good for them, rather than the community as a whole; where they do what feels good and seek forgiveness afterwards; where people do not even know their values (what they stand for) or, worse still, borrow them from somebody else.
Then I see people who do the wrong thing and forgive themselves by offering the worst excuse of them all: ''I am only human.''
I don’t want people to have the same values as me. I would rather they had their own, so long as they know what they are and are prepared to put in the effort to live by them. I have friends with very different values -- but they have them and they are their own.
Around me I see people making comments on social media that are devoid of fact, offering comments that reflect an incapacity to think critically or objectively, or a lack of willingness to do so.
I see people who accept the teachings of others without applying objective and critical thinking, and without demanding any evidence.
I see people who follow what they want rather than what the evidence suggests. I see so few people that I can respect intellectually.
I don't want people to agree with me. I know people who disagree with me on so many subjects, but apply intellect in a way I respect and, as such, I respect them. I am not talking about agreement, I am talking about the capacity to think, regardless of the point of view that arises.
Is it any surprise then that in my adulthood, my greatest solace comes from solitude!