No matter how much you love writing, there will be times when you are desperate for inspiration. And sometimes, the inspiration could come from the most unlikely of sources. Last week, I received a call from a friend in Sarawak. He suggested that maybe it was timely to write about the role of an academic and also academic freedom. But I told him that I had highlighted issues related to academic freedom numerous times in the past. Hence, I am not sure if this would be a good idea, as the readers might get bored. A few days passed and here I am. I changed my mind and I decided to take stock and consider what an academic really is. I visualised that the academic of the future would be known as more of a thought leader or professional thinker, rather than someone who is tied to an institution. A career that is built along these lines could actually open up more space for freedom of thought. At the same time, it would allow for more opportunities to initiate work that would eventually contribute to society. More importantly, it would allow for a much deeper understanding of actual problems in practice.