THE REAR END: Never Stop Never Stopping to Learn
Sure, kids‘ brains learn more easily. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
Consider this. Notable scientists around the globe tell us that children have a (roughly) 500% easier time learning a second language than adults. Furthermore, they say children can acquire basic verbal skills in a secondary language roughly 6,000 times faster than their fully grown counterparts.
And now consider the well-documented theory that I’m far too lazy to Google real statistics on the acquisition of second languages at various developmental ages, and also that I love making up statistics. This theory was proven true in 105.7% of my clinical tests.
Putting this very important technical jargon aside, I think we can all agree that I’m somewhat 100% right: kids have an easier time learning certain things than do most adults. As they grow, a child’s brain is wired like a little knowledge vacuum. And once you get to my age, your brain is just wired in different ways. It’s not so much geared for intuitively absorbing knowledge and physical skills as it is geared for lusting after grocery store donuts, attempting to absorb every piece of content Netflix thinks I’ll like, and trying to think of ever more hilarious things to say to my family because, deep down, I know they think I’m funny no matter what they say out loud all the time.
Or maybe that’s just me.
One thing’s for sure: I’ve been thinking a lot about somersaults. I can remember back to when my son (three years old at the time) suddenly did his first somersault like there was nothing to it. He immediately had it down. Sure, we’d shown him how, but he was never very interested. Then – boom – the Somersault Kid was born.
Will I ever do a good somersault? It’s not a particularly useful skill in my line of work, but what if ninjas attack my office and I need to run and dive into a somersault to save our IT Manager from a whirling samurai sword assault?
My daughter (six years old at the time) hadn’t yet figured out the art of the somersault, and she seemed a little sad that her brother learned first. I tried to explain to her that different people learn things at different times, and I heard myself saying, “I mean, I still can’t do a somersault.”
It’s true. I’m really bad at somersaulting. Like, really bad. I end up rolling sideways, tipping over lamps and coffee tables and elderly relatives. I just never mastered it. I remember a gymnastics section in my high school gym class. I couldn’t do anything we learned. We had to develop our own gymnastics routine incorporating basic maneuvers and, oh holy crap, am I glad no one filmed the presentations.
And now, I wonder if I’ve missed my window. Will I ever do a good somersault? It’s not a particularly useful skill in my line of work, but what if ninjas attack my office and I need to run and dive into a somersault to save our IT Manager from a whirling samurai sword assault? Sorry, Ms. IT Manager, I guess you’re sushi now.
But maybe I should keep trying.
Maybe the benefit of learning new things – at any age – goes beyond fending off the occasional urban ninja attack. Because when you learn something new, you get more than a new skill. You get the confidence to learn more.
I once watched a YouTube video and taught myself how to replace the computer in my kitchen stove, allowing me to save hundreds of dollars and avoid doing the dishes before a repairman came. The effect this had on my self-esteem was immeasurable.
With nothing more than sheer determination, a Phillips head screwdriver, and a factory-direct part ordered via the internet, I was able to replace a crucial kitchen appliance’s most expensive and complex component. What a rush! I felt as though nothing was beyond my capability. I could achieve anything – from brain surgery to unclogging the bathroom sink. I was invincible! I was Michaelus Paulusonian – Viking God of Stove Repair!
Then I watched some TV and went to bed.
Learning new things, no matter what they are, gives you a tremendous sense of well being. Sure, you might feel like a complete idiot at first, but once you gain even a little confidence, the instant high you get can sustain you to the next stage and beyond. This is a high to which we should all be addicted.
So will I finally learn to do a somersault? Of course not, you fools. I’ll start with something easier like French.