“Knowledge is a burden–once taken up, it can never be discarded.”–Stephen Lawhead (smart dude)
Around these parts, I’m known to throw around the term “the burden of knowledge.” I usually employ the term in reference to an unpleasant housekeeping task. Something that only I will take care of, as I am the only one bothered by it. Car seats are an excellent example of the “burden of knowledge.” You can ride around for weeks on end not knowing what is going on under a car seat. Then one day you have to move the seat out of the car, or maybe you catch a glimpse of a stray goldfish in that funny nook where the buckle comes out and BAM! Out of nowhere, the burden of knowledge hits you. All of a sudden you find melted yogurt raisins, a few french fries that are brittle as toothpicks and a mangled lollipop stick and nothing can make your mind stop racing until that seat is out of the car and the whole thing has gone through something like a hazmat chamber. These types of situations are all around us, just waiting to be discovered! Never mind that those raisins have been shoved in that seat for, oh, what? 3 months? Knowing about them for 5 minutes is LONG ENOUGH. (Incidentally, it is my view that yogurt raisins should come with a warning on the package that they should only be eaten while standing over a trash can, because those little boogers can fall anywhere and get gooey and gross and basically ruin your day. Not the day you eat them. The day you FIND them.)
Another good example of the Burden of Knowledge is the refrigerator. Say, for example, spilled chicken juice. (gag) Raw chicken makes me squeamish anyway, and if any of that packaged chicken juice gets out, forget about it. Everything in the fridge comes out, and the hazmat suit goes on. All the Burden of Knowledge elements are there:
(1) You’re going about your business (NOT planning to clean the refrigerator, in fact possibly in a hurry to get to a completely different task) and a BOK issue presents itself.
(2) No one else is concerned about resolving the issue. NEVER MIND that DEATH is possibly swimming around in that chicken juice, mingling with the foods that we reach in and eat all day long. Waiting to get on our fingers. Making other packages stick like glue to the shelves. My family would probably pull grapes out of the goo, wondering if it were some new sort of salad dressing we got. Mmmmm, salmonella vinaigrette.
(3) The situation must be resolved immediately. Otherwise, not another single thought can fit inside your head. Hence the burden that cannot be discarded…
(4) The resolution involves an unpleasant, unplanned task. Only a handful people in this world woke up this morning planning to dispose of a dead rat in the garage, but even fewer wanted to wake up every day smelling dead rat. So, there you go. Take care of your unpleasant task. No one else is going to do it for you. The rat fairy isn’t stopping by.
(5) No one else knows there was ever a situation to begin with. (No one in my family has ever said, “You know, I’m so glad I don’t have a food-borne illness. Thank you so much for sanitizing the refrigerator, counter and sinks. It’s a blessing to know that I won’t be pooping my brains out for the next three days.”)
So now you have a new term to use the next time an unpleasant, unplanned, undeniably necessary task presents itself to you. The Burden of Knowledge is upon us, all of us.