Teach Me Something!

My favorite xkcd.

All knowledge is acquired.

We are, probably to both our tremendous benefit and our great peril, born knowing absolutely nothing. We don’t even have great survival instincts, as animals go. We’re blank slates.

All the knowledge we have, we have because of experiences. Sometimes it’s the experience of someone having told us something that we miraculously retained (and trust me, it’s miraculous when we retain anything someone teaches us), and a lot of the time it’s because we encountered some barrier between us and our goals that we could only overcome by learning a new tidbit. Those are the best ones.

But everyone’s journey is different, and the things you know, you know because of yours. When we encounter people that don’t know what we know, we often have the unfortunate instinct to deride them or at least inwardly consider them less intelligent than we are. We scoff and say “I can’t believe they don’t know that! It’s such an elementary fact!” But of course it isn’t.

Meanwhile, when we encounter people who know things we don’t know – like, for instance, literally everyone – we dismiss their information. “If I don’t already know it, it’s probably either untrue or so academic and obscure that it’s a useless bit of trivia. Surely I already know all the relevant and important things!” Hogwash.

The exchange of new information – facts, ideas, jokes, stories, anything – is one of the truly great and divine experiences we get to have, and it’s out there to be had every day of your life if you want it.

You should be thrilled at these opportunities! Every single person you meet, every conversation you have, is a chance to get smarter. Every time you meet someone who doesn’t know some “elementary fact” that you know is a chance for you to make a difference and improve someone’s life!

I’d love to know what you have to teach me. Tell me!

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