“What did you learn today that you will remember for the rest of your life?”
When I was very very small, my dad would ask me this every day when I got home from school. I don’t know if it was something he picked up from his own parents or whether he had read it in some parenting book as a good open-ended question to engage your child in conversation, but I’m pretty sure my answer was invariably “nothing,” probably accompanied by a mental eye-roll. (Actual eye-rolling was forbidden as being an indication of “sass,” the evil of all evils.) But even at that tender age and even never having been exposed to the word at that point, I knew cheesy when I heard it.
Of course, my “nothing” was a total lie. I mean, when you’re six or seven, you learn to read and write. You learn to add. You learn the life-cycle of a salmon. Unlike, say, everything I learned in grade 11 social studies, I do remember that stuff. I even use it sometimes. (Ok, I don’t use the salmon thing.)
But what about now? I’m sure that days, sometimes weeks, go by where not only do I not learn something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, I don’t learn anything at all. I’m pretty sure that today was one of those days. I just do the same things and think the same things and carry on my merry way. Which feels pretty pointless. It’s not as if I know everything there is to know. There’s a lot to learn out there, and I’m pretty sure some of it is memorable and even worthwhile. (Although there is other stuff that I really hope I don’t remember for the rest of my life: I have a sinking feeling that I’ll still be able to give details on Brad and Angelina’s relationship when I’m seventy. I don’t even care now and I mourn those wasted brain cells.)
There’s a lot to be said for learning things, and I’m sure it’s all pretty obvious, so I won’t bother spelling it out. Let’s just say it’s something I don’t think I’ve been spending enough energy on. So I’m going to try to change that. I’m not talking about going back to school. Learning for its own sake has its place, but at this point I think I’m more interested in the directly practical.
Who knows what I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Memory is weird, and some of the things that are clearest in my head are things that meant nothing to me when they happened. I’d like to say I plan to learn a new memorable thing every day going forward, but honestly, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think for now, I would like to work on learning another language, on learning a new recipe that can become my signature dish that people ask me to bring to their parties, on learning to play some cool tunes on my guitar, and maybe on learning to make some kind of origami animal that I can use to impress small children.