Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back When We Knew It All

Every now and then I run across one of our old posts, and I shake my head at the arrogance of the young. My stars and garters, we knew everything back then! But few things make me roll my eyes as much as one of our most popular Google hits, What Your 18-Year-Old Needs To Know, as decreed from on high by the 27-year-old Darwins.

It's good penance to read this kind of stuff seven years later, as a kind of time capsule of preciousness. I'll point out right here that I don't know at least one of the things on my own list, and several from Darwin's. Here's a few choice additions that didn't make the list then:

  • Knowing how to make a gracious apology
  • Knowing how to keep your mouth shut when you haven't anything constructive to say
  • Knowing that although you are unique in the eyes of God, your feelings, experiences, and opinions are probably not so in the eyes of man. 
  • Knowing that although sarcasm gets quick laughs, kindness builds more enduring relationships.
  • Knowing that you don't know everything, and that's okay.
I'll tell you what: having eight years of writing archived for public consumption punctures any puffed-up belief I may have had in my own vast maturity of years past. Egad.


Ana Maria said...

Amen, sister!

Jenny said...

Do we get to guess what you don't know on your list?

I love these kinds of lists. Gives me a good measure of a well-rounded person and where I am seriously lacking.

So when you say "Know the table of elements," do you mean know all the elements or be able to point and say that's a table of elements? :)

MrsDarwin said...

Heck, I don't even know what I meant. Probably that I wished I knew the table of elements well, because I still don't.

From Darwin's list, I don't really know about Excel databases (not that I couldn't learn, but that I haven't), I can't drive a stick, I've never shot a gun, my mile is laughable, and I don't know that I've replaced a hard drive (though I might have, once, years ago).

entropy said...

Never shot a gun?!

What are you some kind of liberal?

Brandon said...

I've never seen Citizen Kane or The Third Man, despite being an Orson Welles fan. I also haven't seen Bridge over the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia is one of the movies, which I can count on one hand, which I've fallen asleep watching. I don't know how to drive stick (and did not actually get my driver's license until my late twenties). I don't bake, can't read music -- well, I can 'read music' in the same sense that a trained ape 'knows sign language' -- and I pity the baby whose diaper I have to change.

Darwin said...


Yeah, it's kind of embarrassing. I own a number of guns and shoot them every so often (thought not as often as I'd like), but somehow it keeps working out that MrsD can't make it with me when I go shooting.

Darwin said...

There are a lot of old posts that I feel embarrassed about these days, though this one isn't necessarily one of them except perhaps for its breezy opening tone. I'm a sucker for aspirational lists, and as I said at the time I hadn't done all of these. It included a number of things that I'd did later and thought "boy, why didn't I learn this earlier" or else that I felt like I'd missed out on doing.

To this day:
- I haven't read all the books of the Bible (there are a few Old Testament ones I've never got to)
- I haven't seen Bridge Over The River Kwai all the way through
- I can't speak any foreign language well enough to communicate in an everyday fashion
- I've never changed my own oil (which is odd given that I've done stuff like flushing my brake fluid or replacing a radiator -- it just never seemed worth it to change my own oil though I remember watching my dad do it as a kid)
- I used to be able to run a mile moderately well but I never timed myself
- I get the words of the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds mixed up.
- I play piano and read music rather as Brandon describes -- like an ape does sign language

Looking back, the thing that appalls me about a number of my old posts is my willingness to sound off on topics that I knew fairly little about. For instance, I recall reading over an old post and seeing that I'd thrown off the claim that I found Plato's account of essences/ideals more persuasive than Aristotle's. Of course, the honest thing to say would have been "I've read some Plato and a lot of C. S. Lewis and I found it easier to understand than the little bit of Aristotle that I've read, so sure, why not, whatever it is that Plato is saying, maybe I believe that." A much wiser thing for me to say would have been nothing. Why stick your neck out on a topic you don't even know enough about to have a solid understanding of what everyone's talking about?

As I've got to where I understand a few fields more deeply, I've come increasingly to feel like there are a lot of topics that I'm not very competent to tackle -- no, not even with five minutes of quick googling to form snap judgements. (Honestly, I'm kind of surprised I didn't get told off by older and wiser people a lot more often.)

Of course, the downside of this is that as one comes to think of oneself as knowing less, one has less opinions about which to blog. I sometimes feel like things used to be a lot more interesting around here for that very reason, even if the opinions I was airing were often kind of ill-considered.

entropy said...


Totally understandable. We have a number of guns as well but because we have all these littles, I never get to go with him. And I don't love shooting so much that I'd go by myself while he stays home with the kids.

Jenny said...

I'll own that I haven't done half the things on your list.

I tried to learn to drive a manual, but the backwards motion of the car as you engage the gears was too terrifying. Of course we were in the East Tennessee mountains when I was trying to learn so the hills worked hard against me. I suppose if it were an emergency, I could manage to drive a stick.

entropy said...


There's always the emergency brake for scary hills in traffic!

My dad used to make us hold steady on a hill using only the clutch and gas so we'd get used to the feeling of where it "catches."

MrsDarwin said...

I fell asleep recently while rewatching The Fellowship of the Ring. I'd read the book again shortly before the viewing, and the movie was so flavorless in comparison that it was actually more interesting to drowse off than to keep watching it.

I don't often watch a movie without knowing what I'm going into, so I can only think of two movies I've actually turned off and refused to watch further. One was a lousy early Harrison Ford WWII flick in which he was a pilot -- so terrible and cliched. The other was called Total Eclipse, about French poets, and it was just ghastly. Leonardo DiCaprio played Arthur Rimbaud, I think. I watched about twenty minutes and wanted to put my eyes out from sheer boredom and disgust.

A movie I wish I'd walked out on sooner was Event Horizon, which my host had picked at the sci-fi compromise between dubbed Jackie Chan and some lousy romance about a pianist. That was, hands down, the most horrible movie I've ever seen, as much of it as I caught with my hands over my eyes.

Sarah said...

People talk about teenagers "knowing it all," but as a twenty-something this period is even worse. My husband has a little sister just starting college, and I'm constantly suppressing the urge to grab her and say "don't make my mistakes!" Never mind that I have plenty more mistakes in my future.