I have been walking the Earth for approximately 468,419 hours. Okay, so maybe I was doing more crawling and crying the first 14,000 hours than walking and talking but the point is I have logged in a lot of hours being a living breathing human.
Now a few years ago Malcolm Gladwell, a poofy haired pop psychologist lecturer trying to sell books, popularized a somewhat older concept that you can master a field of study and become an expert if you practice it for 10,000 hours. He used Bill Gates and the Beatles as examples. Now I have a hard time buying into this because like I mentioned above, obviously I have been practicing being a living breathing human for well over 40 times that amount of time and yet I still find myself relatively oblivious about much of my world.
So is there something wrong with me that with all this practice ‘humaning’, I’m not a grand master expert at it? I’ll even knock it down a few notches and say that for years I’ve fancied myself a kinda observant, common sensey, street smarty kinda guy but now I’m questioning that.
Like the other day I looked down and thought, well how long has there been an ‘Fn’ key on my computer keyboard lurking between the space bar and Ctrl key? ‘FN’? Does this turn on some odd radio frequency or link me to some lost chemical element cross between Iron and Francium? More to the point, how long has that thing been hiding in plain sight down there? I felt like one of those clueless neighbors to a terrorist interviewed on the evening news about them being pleasant, quiet and nice but oblivious to them building a 40foot-tall enriched plutonium nuclear grade weapon in their front yard next to their pink petunias and garden gnome.
Look, I’m not completely drooling in a cup, coma girl Terri Schiavo, Brian Wilson in the 1980s, out of it. I know the ‘FN’ button is a shortcut ‘function’ key but I have typed on this damn keyboard almost every day for the last seven years and I truly never noticed it lounging down there on the bottom of my keyboard. It’s obvious I’ve never used it. The white printed letters on most of my vowel keys are completely rubbed off. All that is left on my ‘A’ is a kinda crippled worm looking dash. Actually most of my keys are pretty well-worn but that little ‘FN’ is sitting there all out of place untouched and pristine like a well-dressed religious virgin girl in a pure white dress at rain-soaked muddy Insane Clown Posse juggalo gathering.
Heck now that I am looking, there also seems to be a shortcut button on my keyboard to my computer’s calculator right there above my number keys. When did that get there? Just a couple of paragraphs ago I was fumbling around some sleazy dark corner of Windows 10 making small talk with Cortana, the love child of Siri and that little paper clip guy that used to annoyingly pop up when I screwed up in Word or Excel, hoping to get a clue where the damn calculator is hidden so I could figure out how many hours I was alive.
For a couple of decades the calculator was always in the accessories folder but 10,000 hours of practice computer boy, Bill Gates, apparently this year decided to shove it deep into the stinky bowels of the current app based operating system. It’s in there somewhere probably next to some worn tired code that when activated will magically open Minesweeper. I obviously found it or else that hour thing would not be up there at the beginning but I had to search all over for it. You would think a master super practiced human would have noticed sometime in the past seven years the happy little shortcut key with a picture of a calculator on it that works without even having to hold down the ‘FN’ key to use it.
But back to my feeble point, what else am I missing that is right in front of my nose. I used to think I was a very observant person but being alive for nearly 500,000 hours has put me in my place. Along with all the wisdom I have gained, I also have learned that I don’t know everything; as a matter of fact I know closer to nothing than everything. Oh don’t worry, I’m not just putting myself down. I’m dragging you down into the muck of existence with me, because the sad truth is no matter how many hours of existence you got under your belt, you too know closer to nothing than everything too.
I think my life will become easier once I admit I just can’t know everything nor do I need to know everything. I’m not saying I should give up learning more and trying to better myself but just keep it in perspective. Why do I expect perfection out of myself but I do not expect everyone else to be great at everything. I don’t expect Albert Einstein to be an expert scuba diver or Ernest Hemingway to be an astronaut or Leonardo Da Vinci to be a chef… well, actually along with everything else he did kinda design kitchens and food presentations and stuff… OK bad example, Da Vinci could do friggin everything but I’m not Lenny… and that’s okay too. I just need to be a pretty good me. And if I can get that through my skull, I think I will be a happier camper for the rest of my hours.