Knowledge Is Not A Bank

Now that my children are getting older, it has come to my attention that I have lost access to some of my own knowledge. I learned algebra in school, for example, but now that my son has taken it, I find that the lessons I had all those years ago seem to have slipped through a crack into some inaccessibly cloudy region of my skull. I know I knew it, but I can’t deny that I don’t know it now. And the same is true for much more than my maths.

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Writing Proverbs

I’ve always enjoyed the book of Proverbs in the Bible. The short, memorable sayings hit hard, like espresso shots of truth. You might say that the book is a bit like Twitter, but without the hot-takes, the cut-downs, and the crazy weird stuff and arguments… so not like Twitter at all, actually.

The whole point of the book of Proverbs is to gather wisdom and knowledge about life and living, and to pass it on to the next generation. Which got me thinking: if Solomon can write proverbs to pass on what he learned about life to help his children, why can’t I? I have lived for a little while now, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Why shouldn’t I try to capture some of those things in proverbs—short, memorable sayings that might help my children, or someone else?

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“Well, THAT was magic!”

When my second son was three, he didn’t walk—he marched. Everywhere. His stride may have been short, but it was full of confidence. I vividly remember the day he marched ahead of us into the grocery store, but had to pause as the automatic doors slid open. He watched them closely, then announced as a matter of fact: “Well, THAT was magic!” Then he marched through.

Was it magic? Not really. I know, and you know, and he knows now that he’s older, that automatic doors don’t operate on fairy dust. There is a mechanical, electrical explanation, and it all adds up and it all makes sense. Yes. But isn’t it amazing? The doors open themselves! It may not be magic in a technical sense, but isn’t there something magical about it?

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Sometimes The Best Way To Support Me Is To Thwart Me

Growing up, I was part of a Boy Scout Troop that met in an old converted house. I have a lot of good memories associated with that building, some of which stand out so vividly that I can almost smell the musty walls again—like the time the Scoutmaster told me that I had failed my Board of Review and would not be progressing to the next rank. Meanwhile, my friends passed. I can still taste the embarrassment of that moment, but today I count it as a good memory, along with all the victories and laughter of those years. The fact is, I earned that failure. I went in overconfident and underprepared, fully expecting to be the best of the bunch by just showing up. When they asked me about the things I was supposed to know, I didn’t. So I really did fail, and they let me. They could have bailed me out and given me the rank anyway to spare my feelings, but I’m glad they didn’t.

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We’ve Inherited More, But That Doesn’t Make Us Better

Humans don’t fly. Every human in the world knew this for most of history—but I’ve flown. I’ve flown many times, over long distances, at heights and speeds that boggle the mind. How did I do it? I have no idea. I know it had something to do with aerodynamics and jet propulsion and lift and thrust and stuff like that, but mostly I just stepped through the door and when I walked out I was on a different continent. In my pocket I carry a small computer, which I know does something with invisible waves and towers and space satellites and stuff like that, but mostly I just know I can talk to my friends and family through it. I turn the key in my car, and I know there are belts and gears and little petrol explosions that push pistons, but mostly I just sit down and push a little pedal with my foot and wish the other cars would get out of my way. In the kitchen I have hot running water and cold food, and I can make the cold food hot in minutes with some kind of micro-radiation cube.

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