Things I wish I knew at 26

I’ve been on this good, green planet for twenty-six years. Nearly twenty-seven. That’s 227,760 hours.

The first twelve years were spent learning how to read, write, perform simple mathematic calculations, and obey my parents.

The next six were spent rebelling against those same parents. It sounds like an unproductive way to go about things, but at that age, we don’t seem to care.

After those initial eighteen years, we’re deemed adults, able to drink beer, drive cars, and decide who will run our country. Not all at the same time, hopefully.

I’m eight years past that mark. But somewhere along the way, I missed the class where they teach you to cook. And dance. And fight. And load a shotgun. And be a real man.

At twenty-six years of age, I wish I knew how to prepare a nice meal for guests. Or maybe for that special girl. I know “survival cooking,” but I cannot comprehend the idea of cooking for pleasure. It would be wonderful to be able to treat my friends to a delicious, well thought out, homecooked meal. But I cannot. My mother was busy raising four children, so she let us off easy in the cooking department. As a child, I was thrilled that I didn’t have the “chore” of cooking assigned to me. Years later, I wish I had.

I wish I was able to dance both knowledgeably and confidently. To politely ask a girl to dance, walk her to the middle of the room, and proceed to move around the dance floor with grace and joy is a skill I’ve never acquired. I dance with pure glee when nobody is watching, but when I’m at a function, I break down. Even when that “function” is a bar.

I wish I could handle myself in a fight. Hell, I wish I had been in a fight. I’ve taken kickboxing classes. I know how to attack a speed bag and elbow blocker pads into submission. But my defence falls apart as soon as the rules of organized fighting are removed. And in a real situation, there are no rules.

I wish I could speak more than one language. Granted, boasting English as a first language can certainly carry you through the better part of the countries and cultures in existence today, but there’s something unique and special about being able to converse with a new friend in their native tongue.

I wish I knew how to swap out the engine in a truck. And tell Phillips and Robertson screwdrivers apart without having to refer to them as “star-point” and “square-head.” I wish I could barbecue steaks to perfection, just the way those fussy people like them. I wish I knew how to spend a week, or even a month, in the wilderness. I wish I knew how to give a good hug.

I’m happy with who I am. And I’m confident in what I know and how I carry myself. But I know I’m still relatively uneducated.

And fundamentally unskilled.

I’m able to build an app for your phone that will unlock your house when satellites determine you’re within ten steps of your front door, yet I cannot bake a loaf of bread.

I can write algorithms with the power to sort millions of records in mere seconds, and yet I fail at the simplicity of two-stepping (a country-style dance, for those of you who didn’t grow up in the Canadian prairies).

But I’m still young. And so are you. So let us learn. Let us take full advantage of the immediate and freely accessible wisdom around us.

À demain, mes amis.