As an editor, I do a lot of reading. I fact-check. I research. I learn. I know a little bit about a lot of things, and I love being a purveyor of useless knowledge.
Want to know how an anglerfish mates? I’ve got you covered. What about the etymology of the word “Lego”? Yup, good on that too. And what the heck is Canadian Thanksgiving? I can tell you what it’s all aboot. But I can’t whistle. And I can’t juggle. And I don’t know how to knit.
I spend all of my time in front of a laptop, a TV, or an iPhone. But when I look back on my life in 50 years, the things that stick with me probably won’t be “Gangnam Style” or the Gossip Girl series finale. I doubt I’ll remember anything I saw on Texts From Last Night or Buzzfeed. And it’s pretty unlikely I’ll recall that one thing I posted on Facebook that one time. In fact, I hope none of my fondest memories have anything to do with electronic devices.
Instead, I’ll remember the day I (accidentally) swam with sharks, the day I graduated from college, the day I played in my first ice hockey game, the day I moved into my first apartment…
All of these moments are burned into my memory, not just because of the events themselves, but because of the people who helped me get there and shared those moments with me. After thinking about it for a while, I decided I wanted to find a way to create more of those moments.
That desire is what gave me the idea for this little quest of mine.
When I first hatched the plan, my goal was to learn one new thing a week (and, since a quest is nothing without a written record, I would obviously have to blog about it). I set no limits on what I could learn or how I could learn it; everything was fair game. I taught myself the cup game. I learned how to do the Charleston. But something didn’t feel right, and I could tell I wasn’t making lasting memories. Plus, I was actually spending more time in front of the computer instead of less. YouTube videos and online tutorials weren’t going to cut it.
So it was back to the drawing board for me. I realized that, to make the kinds of memories I wanted to make, I would need to involve real people. Real human people. People I would interact with face-to-face and have to talk to and stuff. I wasn’t just going to be learning things anymore; I’d have to be taught.
And this is where Bill Nye factors into the equation. (Yes, that Bill Nye…the voice of a generation, patron saint of the wheeled TV cart, hero to students and substitute teachers everywhere.) In an AMA on Reddit a few months back, the Science Guy said something that really stuck with me: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
I realized that I wouldn’t have to pay for dance lessons or music lessons to accomplish my goal; I could conscript my friends and family into service.
So this is how it’s going to work:
Every week, I’m going to get someone to teach me something. If I know that a person has a particular skill, I can request they teach me that skill; however, in most cases, I will be at the mercy of my teacher. And if I can’t find anyone to teach me something I want to learn, I’ll find a way to gather the knowledge, and I’ll learn the skill with anyone who wants to learn it with me. I will be doing the things and posting the blogs every Sunday night by 11:59 pm.
Anyone is welcome to suggest something for me to attempt, but please keep all requests within the realm of possibility (read: I won’t be risking life or limb, and money is a bit of an object). Lastly, though this blog is a New Year’s baby, it isn’t a New Year’s resolution as such, so I have no idea how long it will last. I guess I’ll keep going until I run out of teachers. Or until I stop having fun. After all, “[s]he who laughs most, learns best.”