There was a time when I knew everything. You might think that it’s easy knowing everything, but it isn’t. It really is quite a burden to bear. The pressure of being right all the time is pretty intense. It certainly wasn’t something I took lightly.
Ignorance is bliss, so they say.
I was raised in a sheltered home, although some of my friends believe it to have been a shelter for abandoned children, and that I landed up there because my parents were embarrassed by what I looked like.
I went to a good co-ed school, and somehow survived the ridicule that having coke bottle bottoms for glasses, a double set of braces, and very thick wavy hair all at the same time tends to invite.
The fact that I wore sheer stockings and a little chamois skirt in the school musical didn’t help either. It seems the excuse that I played Lion in a production of The Wiz wasn’t good enough to explain away the outfit.
Fortunately, being selected for the tennis, hockey and cricket first teams balanced things out a little. Well, I like to believe that anyway. Rugby might have me helped more.
The first real test came during my first ever driving lesson. We came careening down the hill in my Mom’s red Mazda 323, with my Dad in the passenger seat. As I turned into our driveway my Dad nervously exclaimed, “You’re going too fast!”
OK, so he might have done a little more than just ‘exclaim’, I guess it sounded more like something one of the passengers on the Titanic might have screamed when they saw the iceberg. “Don’t worry Dad, I’ve got this!” was my reply. The gate pillar proved that I was wrong. But I was unperturbed. It was a minor hiccup. A pimple on the face of omniscience.
And so I embarked on a stint in the National Defence Force. Yes, those were the good old days of conscription. During my first year of wearing the irresistible Air Force uniform I found out the hard way that dating two girls at the same time is not the seriously lucky situation I thought it was. Shunned and dateless, it was Life 2 – 0 Rich. Nobody had prepared me for rejection of this magnitude.
But I soldiered on as one must, moving onwards and upwards into the varsity years. Latin proved to be the next downfall. The shock of failing something hit me like I had been run over by a car. When the driver put the car in reverse to make sure, I realised that it was perhaps time to start applying myself. Perhaps, dare I think it, I might not be infallible. Nonetheless; Illegitimi non carborundum
Knowing everything comes at a price. Failure is that much harder a burden to bear. It’s the ultimate set-up. I had spent so much of my life trying to be perfect, the consummate people pleaser and the professional smokescreen technician.
I had a pretty blissful twelve-year wait before life taught me the hardest lessons. Before I realised that I knew absolutely nothing about life.
I learned that ‘happily ever after’, and ‘until death do us part’, had a sell-by date of only ten years.
I learned that being the perfect father is a fallacy, being the perfect son even more so.
I learned that financial security is a pipe dream, and that ‘prime minus two point five percent’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a dangerous bedfellow.
I learned that not everyone who portrays themselves as your friend is actually your friend.
I learned the hardest of lessons; that nothing is as it seems. Knowledge is subjective.
I learned that life is hard.
The more I learn, the less I realise I actually know.
And so I have learned to appreciate the moment. Tomorrow it might all have changed. I cannot know what it will bring, but I know what I have today. For that I am grateful.
I also learned that it’s perfectly OK to be perfectly fallible. It’s the beauty of being human. And when we stop trying to be perfect, life is just so much easier and happier.