Yesterday, I took a class in lacto-fermentation. What!? Exactly. It was awesome. And random. Something totally random that I had an interest in and decided to learn something about. (FYI: lacto-fermentation is when foods break down into lactic acid and produce healthy bacteria that’s good for your digestion. Like sauerkraut! Which I made a beautiful batch of. See pic:)
Two friends of mine (who share my passion for good food) had taken this class previously and recommended it to me. I had the afternoon free and so, without hesitation, I signed up. All I knew was that I love sauerkraut and it would be fun to learn something new.
And it was.
I love learning about things. There is so much I don’t know! There is so much to know, in this big expanding universe of ours. I find this fact both inspiring and humbling. Lately, this willingness to learn has become a guiding principle of my life and keeps expanding my life in amazing ways.
But it wasn’t always like that. Rewind 10 years and my passion for knowledge was hampered by the desire to fit in. I wanted to know things in order to be liked by people who already knew them. At 18, the majority of my friends were at least ten years my senior, so I had to scramble to stay on top of movie references, memorize song lyrics, and understand pop culture and political events that happened before I was born. I spent years laughing hollowly at jokes I didn’t understand and trying to prove how smart I was, while secretly feeling like a dummy.
Thinking you’re supposed to know everything already is a killer.
How, at 18, was I supposed to know about the Bay of Pigs or Hemmingway or David Bowie? How could I have? It didn’t matter, I thought it made me less for not knowing. And I wasn’t so unique. Kids think they know everything there is to know. You tell them about something and they retort “I know that!”. When does an eagerness to learn, that beautiful openness of mind we are all born with, become a desire to prove, and a fear of looking stupid to ourselves and others?
Back to the sauerkraut:
In this class, a dozen or so adults sat around tables with a cabbage and cutting utensils in front of them. Before we began we all lined up to wash our hands. Just like in kindergarten. As we chopped and salted and kneaded our cabbage (kneading it like bread dough releases the water content in the cabbage and it wilts in minutes – its wild!), we looked around excitedly at our neighbors, asking questions of the instructor, enjoying the process. At the end we had a jar full of sauerkraut (well, right now it’s still cabbage in a jar, but in a week or two, it will be sauerkraut!) and an hour and a half of fun.
Not knowing is not bad. It’s just a starting place. A spring board for learning something new. And new is everywhere if we have the curiosity and the willingness to look.
**Plug for the Brooklyn Brainery where I took the class. This place is awesome. They teach affordable classes on random, fun stuff. Highly recommend checking it out.