I don’t know what I don’t know, but I know that. Now.
My brother has a fascinating mind.
We call him Google because he just knows stuff, and when you are with him, it is just as quick to ask him than what it is to pull out your phone and ask Siri.
Although I have to say, Siri and a broad Scottish accent have some compatibility issues, so that might be why her response is doggedly slow.
My brother spends his time reading and soaking up facts. He isn’t a big book reader, but he is an extensive font of knowledge. He remembers stuff. It goes in, and somehow he files it away into a system that is easily searched, referenced and decanted back to a quizzical audience.
He is a mental magician and never ceases to amaze me with his ability to just know. Even when I secretly check on what he tells me, it confirms what I suspect. My brother just knows.
On the other hand, there is me. I am an avid book reader, taking in information and laying it around my brain like the owner of a village corner store haberdashery. The data is sort of there somewhere, but you might need to rummage around a bit to find what you need. It has a general location, but some things might be in a place of cross-fertilisation. Also, please note that an exact match could be difficult, but I might have something vaguely similar to what you are looking for. I will get close to what you need, toss around some options and sell you on that thought.
That would be my answer, and I am sticking with it.
That is what is inside my head. It is excellent when I need to make up sh*t because it is easily accessible, quick and malleable, but it is mightily confused at the point of recall.
My skill was always in patching together the swatches of information to make a beautiful bed throw-over. It would keep you warm in the winter, but if you looked closer, it seems the stitching was a tad rough. It was designed to give you a quick warm feeling now, not next year. And a word of caution, don’t expect it to last you for a couple of winters. That is too far away in the distance to adequately cater for, and that was never the purpose.
At the centre of making that patchwork quilt was the lack of humility to admit that I didn’t know or couldn’t quite recall enough information to answer the question that I was being asked.
There was never any malice intended. It was just never an exact science with me. It was all about the patterns, the sewing and the threading. But when you are making quilt after quilt, it can all get a bit tiring and repetitive. So I have given it up. I have given up the needlework.
I am now brave enough to admit when I don’t know the answer. I can comfortably say that ‘I can not remember and I will need to come back to you on that. I can shrug my shoulders and pout my bottom lip with the best of them.
I now know that I know nothing.
The irony of the change in my approach is that the mental gymnastics and the brain energy spent making bed throw-overs are now given the freedom to work on different things.
My brain can now breathe, and with each breath, my memory improves, and the sunlight of indexed information bleeds in. As unforeseen benefits go, this newfound brain has been a pleasant surprise and something that was genuinely unexpected. If only I had known this earlier in life.
But then, you don’t know what, you don’t know.
Until you know.