Every child is a philosopher, and like most kids, when I was young I had many theories about life. My best theory by far was that I was born knowing everything, and slowly, day-by-day, I forgot what I knew.
Don’t get this mixed up with the idea of reincarnation. I did not think I had existed before this life. But in the period of gestation, I felt sure that I had acquired universal knowledge along with arms and legs. Therefore, my response to a question I did not have the answer to was, “I used to know that, but I forgot.”
I think this is a pretty good theory, and I would like to reapply it to my life. Why don’t I know everything in the world? Everything would be better off if I was tuned into some universal knowledge bank. I wouldn’t forget important vocabulary for my French tests or how to integrate an equation right before my Calc prelim (not that I ever knew how to do that anyway … or did I?) More importantly, I would have the answer to every question on the Sunday Times crossword puzzle, making me the coolest person in the world.
Alas, this is not the case. I quickly learned that I was not born knowing everything, as my parents tired of my antics and informed me that it was wrong to lie. How they were aware that I was lying about having forgotten how to speak Italian at the ripe age of 3 I did not understand. It seemed perfectly plausible to me. But they were too wise, and with a little encouragement, I soon broke the habit.
Well parents, I’m here to say that I wish you had just let me keep thinking that I was all-knowing at some previous point in my life. It’s way cooler to say I used to speak every language, knew the words to every song, and knew all universal laws and principles.
Why crush a little girl’s dreams? Why let me accept defeat so young in life? Is there anything wrong with having self-confidence? Now I’m sure I don’t know everything. I don’t even dare cut out the Sunday Times crossword puzzle for fear of being mocked by the black newsprint questions and empty white boxes. I can barely get myself to take a gander at Monday’s puzzle. Had you given me a crossword puzzle at the age of three, I would have filled it out no sweat. (Unless I had temporarily forgotten the alphabet.) It may not have been right, but that wouldn’t faze me. I would just brush it off, slapping my forehead and muttering in frustration, “what was that answer? Oh well, I used to know all the names of the British Cricket players in the year 1980.”
I think my three-year-old self knew something that I wish I was more sure of today: It’s all about confidence. Whether I used to know everything or not, I totally pulled off the know-it-all thing, no sweat. There was not a doubt in my mind. So maybe it’s not a good idea to tell such blatant lies. But no harm, no foul, right? I guess instead I could just wear a princess tiara and pretend I’m the queen.
Plus, how do you know we didn’t have universal knowledge when we were born? You probably just forgot.
Archived article by Becky Wolozin
Sun Staff Writer