Monday, May 30, 2011

Essay 4: Useless Knowledge and its Uses

My parent’s house has fifteen stairs from the first floor to the second; Belleville, Ontario birthed one of the best creameries ever; beer can be substituted for milk when making an omelet; Sephora gives you free makeup on your birthday; and never, ever, take wedding advice from gypsies. Taken together, these facts makeup only a small fraction of my “useless” knowledge.

When I was a kid, it was important to know just how many stairs I had to slide down in order to get to the main floor. At that time, it was equally important to know the exact location where I could get a mint chocolate chip ice cream scoop the size of my head. This information became mere memories as I grew up. When I moved on to university, I received a “higher education”. It was then that I gained valuable knowledge, such as the fact that if I was out of milk, I could just pour a little beer into my eggs and my omelets would come out just as fluffy, if not more (plus I would then have a reason to have a breakfast beer). During my summers off, I kept expanding my learning. Since I have always been a sucker for free paraphernalia, knowledge of Sephora’s ongoing birthday promotion is now tucked away for safekeeping and brought out every June 28th. Finally, the most recent lesson is regarding gypsy wedding practices, however, I think it best to leave the details of that one up to your imagination.

While some may argue that every bit of knowledge has a use, the aforementioned facts are termed “useless” because they have served their purpose and have since retired. Now parked in the Florida of my brain, these facts are largely irrelevant to my day-to-day life or any “intelligent” conversation. However, as my overstuffed basement of stuffed animals, Halloween costumes, school projects, and baby clothes demonstrates, I have a hard time seeing anything from my past as completely “useless”. Yes, these things are no longer in use, but maybe, I will need them one day. Additionally, they represent where I came from, what I’ve been through, and who I’ve become. Similarly, I remember these things because they are a part of me, and to delete anything from my mental database would reduce me.

I learn because I can’t help it. Information is all around and despite my best efforts, I cannot seem to filter the “important” from the “useless” facts. Instead, everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the irrelevant all get stored away in my noggin’ just waiting for the day that they go from “useless” to “useful”.

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