This one comes from my younger brother, so obviously, the appropriate hat tip and all that.
The idea behind this feeling is that we spend seemingly forever in school learning miles and miles of nonsense to simply regurgitate for the nearest test. How much of Catcher in the Rye, or the geography of central Africa, or the difference between sin and tan, or the French-Indian War do you honestly remember?
If you look at it that way (as opposed to: all that learning is like painting over the same canvas, over and over. It may not show itself eventually, but those thin layers do make a difference in the end), it’s sort of depressing, right?
This feeling rescues it all.
The example my brother gave me (I’ve had a similar experience) dealt with something from his job. A couple of the dudes he works with speak English, but barely. So, to communicate, he tried to break out some of that old school Español. He’s 23 years old, so we’re talking no less than six or seven years since he actually learned to habla. Probably even more since he last paid attention in that class.
And yet, despite how the oddmakers in Vegas had it panning out, he was able to communicate. And not just by yelling fake Spanish, louder*. So yeah, it’s a feeling of recall, of accomplishment. I guess we all have more reserves of knowledge than we expect, but it’s still nice to find it out every so often.
Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: I’m not sure this has one. Please, enlighten me. UPDATE: This comes from Matt Finkel via Twitter. Check it out.
*My mom would do that all the time. I had to explain, “Mom, they’re not deaf. They just don’t speak English.”