Four Years of Life

by Nic Olson

I have now been alive for four years. I have learned nothing.

What I have feared when I began writing is potentially coming true. I don’t believe that there is a limit to discovery or knowledge, however there might be a limit to the ways a man can express new knowledge in a certain medium. And although there is no limit to discovery or knowledge, a man can indeed stop learning. I am running out of things to say, because I am only so good at recycling. There are only a few ways to write the same sentence.

There are perhaps two ways to stop gaining knowledge. Either you eventually come to know absolutely everything, or you come to a point where you give up. Each year, once or twice or sometimes thrice, I come to a point where I contemplate giving up. To stop treading, stop kicking, exhale completely, and sink to the bottom. To retain nothing new because it seems that there is no purpose to do so. Birthdays, and Near-Death Birthdays are sometimes the cause. Just another year since I have seemingly learned nothing, and another year where I contemplate giving up, if I haven’t done so already without even knowing it yet.

I still climb rockfaces I know might kill me, which suggests I haven’t given up, because it takes a grand effort to even choose a rockface to climb. I still climb rockfaces, which seems to suggest that I haven’t learnt a damn thing since April 17, 2009. By these very facts, I must hold all the knowledge that exists in the world.

Or my hypothesis is wrong.

I guess I’ll keep writing.

“It’s one of the great fallacies, it seems to me,” said Lee, “that time gives much of anything but years and sadness to a man.”

-Steinbeck, East of Eden, Chapter 30.2, p373