Maybe it’s because I’ve recently turned 40. Maybe it’s because I’m facing the prospect of bringing another life into the world. Maybe it’s just the unfurling of my brain after a winter of hibernation. I’ve always been a liver and lover of life. But recently I’ve been wondering if perhaps I could have crammed more in.
There are mornings as I lay in the yet unseen bedroom, my eyes still shut, and I wonder what new things I will learn today. After a lifetime of learning, I seem to have gone on sabatical since my girls were born. And what makes my eyes spring open and stare, slightly perplexed, at the ceiling, is the vast dark abyss of the things I don’t know.
I read an article recently about a man. He’s the top dog at the British Museum. He has touched history (literally), he has studied life, he has experienced knowledge I could never attain. His whole life has been about discovery and learning. There are days I feel my whole life is about wiping bums and finding good deals on fresh fruit. Then I watched an interview with the award-laden Irish author John Banville. Litering his literary library, his knowledge in Greek and Roman mythology was so ingrained in his everyday thoughts, it didn’t even seem like something specific he knew. It was just knowledge that I did not know.
I don’t have a specialised subject. All those years of travel and working and reading – what did I actually learn? My geography is appalling, my third world development politics faded as my management skills took over – and lets face it – there’s not a lot of knowledge there. Yes, I’ve read lots of novels, but what have I learned? Surely someone as widely educated and travelled and well-lived as me should know a few things? The essence of French cuisine? The planetary portfolio? The names of common plants and flowers? The bird species of Ireland? How to download the footage from my video camera to my computer?
So I have to start cramming. I have to put down my novels and pick up my text books. I have to get off the couch and go back to night school. Maybe once the baby’s born. Ok, definitely once the baby is sleeping through the night. Maybe next summer. In the meantime I’ll just have to wing it. But then again, not always. Yesterday Daisy asked me why I loved her. Ah. That I know. That I can answer that. Easily.