As my adult years continue, I am continually amazed at how many things I keep learning.
In one respect, "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know" becomes more and more true and relevant. You learn as you live. You grow as you experience. Giant values and concepts become more understandable. I write about those kinds of things a lot.
Today, however, I'm thinking more about little things like useless facts, the pronunciation or definition of certain words, and the reason why something is the way it is.
Every couple of weeks or so, I find myself exclaiming, "I never knew that!" Every couple of weeks or so, I learn something that I never knew.
For example, less than ten years ago, I found out that Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh is actually male. For my whole life, I had thought Rabbit was a girl. He was always cooking and cleaning, and he kind of had a high-ish voice. Then one day I saw a picture of Rabbit wearing a bow tie, and my whole world came undone. I couldn't believe that for over 20 years, I was wrong about Rabbit's gender. Life-altering? Well, not really, but this realization was still pretty shocking to me.
Here's another example: I've always been a reader: if you've been reading my blog, you can probably tell. Just look at my Books, Books, Books post. Anyway, there are many words that you read in books that you may never hear anyone say, or at least, never pay attention to anyone saying it, or even, always think that everyone else was wrong pronouncing it differently. Consequently, I have thought that many words were pronounced a certain way, when it was me that actually turned out to be wrong. I had always thought that "basil" had a short "a," that "cantaloupe" was pronounced "cantaloop" (I still say it that way because it's more fun, and I also partially have my mother to blame for this one), and that "barrage" was pronounced "bear-idj." Then one day, the adult "bookworm" says a word completely wrong and becomes the laughingstock of the group (that's OK; I'm over it).
I started learning to drive when I was 16, but a few months ago when I went for an oil change, one of the guys asked me to pop the hood and I had to really think about it and look around before I could find the latch! How could I not automatically know that? I sure felt like a doofus, but seriously, I don't remember popping my hood before, or maybe I've only done it once and didn't remember where it was. This situation seems impossible, but guess what? It apparently is possible to have been driving for almost 15 years and still be uncertain about how to pop the hood of your car.
Isn't it amazing that we can go through so many years of our lives without knowing certain little things? Isn't it ironic that we can spend 4+ years of our lives completing post-secondary education and still somehow never hear anyone say the word "lapel" during that time (thus assuming the "a" is long)? Isn't it incredible that we know why deciduous trees' leaves change colour and then fall off every autumn, but we may not know if ornamental pepper plants' peppers are edible? We can write essays on the objectification of women in today's magazines, or we may write policies and procedures for the companies we work for, but maybe we can't quite remember for certain, now that we think of it, how exactly frogs fertilize the female's eggs and how long before they become full-grown frogs. I can bake some pretty amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and make a mean chili, but I sometimes still have to think about and perhaps even look it up to know for sure which nuts or fruits or vegetables or legumes grow from vines, little plants, shrubs or trees.
Not only am I constantly discovering little facts all the time but also there are things I still don't know or haven't experienced. I have only seen a small part of one of the Star Wars movies. I have never seen The Godfather. I have ridden a camel, but never a horse. I've never been to Florida. You might be thinking incredulously, "Seriously? You've NEVER seen Star Wars?"
Maybe all the things I never knew until recently, or still have never experienced, are things you feel like you've always known, or have done a million times (like gone to Florida every year during March break). Or, maybe there are things you've never known that are "old news" to me. Maybe "useless facts" are actually "useless" to you, so you don't really care to know why the wind allows you to see the bottoms of trees' leaves just before it rains.
Why is that?
I always assumed that in our learning lives, we start with certain basics and move on to more complex knowledge...in other words, certain information and facts are like prerequisites to other information and facts. Like if you've been driving for 15 years, you know how to pop the hood of your car. Or if you've had a childhood, you've probably been to Florida. Or if you're alive, you've seen Star Wars. Apparently, that assumption is incorrect.
Do our experiences and personalities and passions lead us to certain information, and perhaps shy us away from knowing other things?
Or is some of what we know, or don't know, completely random? How much of what we know do we unintentionally stumble upon? How much of what we don't know is just based on the type of family we were born into?
How big a role does inquisitiveness play? Do those with the most questions learn the most, or do people who don't really question things still learn just as much, just indirectly?
I am really inquisitive, but there are still so many facts that I don't know, and am looking forward to finding out! I love the fact that no matter how much I know, there are still so many little bits of information and facts that I have yet to discover! Learning, to me, never gets old.
So, thank goodness for Google. And the Discovery channel. What did people do without these wonderful information outlets years ago???