Want a reminder of how much you don’t know? Hang out with a kid who is just learning to read.
My youngest has really started to understand how to string letters together in the last month and now there are questions about everything he sees.
In the last few days alone, I’ve been tasked with explaining the “Be(ef) Happy” marketing campaign and the kind of beverage made by Bodington’s. This afternoon, he harangued me with questions about why “all” is spelled with an “a” and not an “o.”
In moments like this, I realize that there are many things in life I don’t fully understand. But the bigger revelation in those moments is not that I lack the knowledge – it’s that I have decided that I don’t even mind.
This afternoon, I could have taken out my phone right then and there and probably found some semblance of an answer for his queries.
But instead? I just told him “some words are like that.”
That’s a terrible answer.
When do we lose that obsession with learning? When do we forsake the optimism that comes with real honest questioning and expanding our general knowledge?
I am reminded of my friend Mike. I met him side stage before seeing a ferocious rock band play a few years back. We were introduced by a mutual friend and immediately hit it off. Soon we were grabbing lunch on occasion and finding ways to work together.
Mike, several decades my senior, had become a go-to in the area for rock and roll photography. This was a position he occupied when I met him. I just took for granted that this was something he had always done. He had surely been pursuing this as a career for his entire life, right?
But months after meeting him, while lunching on a giant hamburger, Mike filled me in on a few details surrounding his picture-taking past.
It turns out that for most of his life, Mike didn’t know all that much about cameras. He had a whole other career, started a business that had little to do with photography and almost nothing to do with rock music.
But around his 50th birthday, Mike thought he might take up photography as a hobby. It was just something he wanted to learn.
He WANTED to LEARN.
That is the single difference between the guy who has now personally photographed the Rolling Stones and everyone else I know who hasn’t.
So ask yourself what you wish you knew.
For me and my pal Nathan, it’s playing the piano. My sister wishes she better understood the economy and our system of government in this country. My old friend Lafe wants to get into metal sculpting. And my brother – a fantastic drummer – wishes he’d also learned to shred on guitar.
The great news is all of us can totally still do these things.
But it’s gonna take some reading….