As a fan of popular social science literature, it is impossible for me to escape the work of Malcolm Gladwell. As a fan of quality rap music, I could not avoid Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ last album, The Heist. So when I gave the album its first run-through, I was enthralled with its lead song, “Ten Thousand Hours.”
The song is an allusion to Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” in which he explains people transcend the ordinary and become masters of their craft after practicing it for 10,000 hours. Gladwell highlights examples of adherents to this rule, including The Beatles, Bill Gates and J. Robert Oppenheimer.
After giving Macklemore’s song a second listen, my mind began to wander. I contemplated the significance of this 10,000-hour rule, and pondered in just how many arenas it was applicable. Specifically, I wanted to examine what it would mean to be an expert.
For the record, 10,000 hours is roughly 417 days, or a year and a few months. If this theory holds true for experts, then it follows that toddlers become masters at life roughly two months after their first birthdays. Because I hold Gladwell to a high regard, I will buy into this hypothesis, and I will look to delve deeper into its implications.
Let’s dig deeper. When people reach a certain maturity level, hard work and responsibility are placed on their shoulders. After a certain point of burning the midnight oil, one pines for a vacation. What these vacations often include is sitting on your butt and watching TV. Mass amounts of food also heavily factor into the equation.
Picture, if you will, even just one day where you can choose to sit and stare at the wall, watch TV for hours on end, play with blocks, eat applesauce and frolic outside until you make yourself dizzy.
This is just an average day for a toddler. Our dreams of pure bliss are their everyday, mundane goings-on. A Fruit By The Foot, an exquisite and rare delicacy to most of you college students reading this, is only banal to those who have just passed their 10,000 hours of life on Earth. As a toddler, you are not encumbered by things like homework, errands and social drama. Rather, you live carefree. It is as if you live in the Garden of Eden. That, in my opinion, is what it means to be an expert person.
So then what happens? Why do we lose our sharpness? Why do we only feel like amateur people now? The answer, I believe, can be found in the film “Baby Geniuses,” which is evidently based on a true story. The film stipulates that all babies maintain IQs at a genius level and have access to even the most obscure spheres of knowledge.
But around the age of two, toddlers learn language and begin interacting with the ordinary world around them. They see people lost in the world, those who work hard and are in dire need of a vacation. Going with the flow, these toddlers grow confused and believe that education and hard work are how one achieves the ultimate state of zen, not recognizing that they had already felt this oneness with the world by playing peek-a-boo and staring aimlessly for hours on end.
I think that the way to treat this atrophy of mental acuity and overall happiness is to remember that while life comes with its share of responsibilities and hardships that we must face and overcome, nothing needs to be taken too seriously. We are meant to enjoy this world. We also need breaks every so often, hopefully ones that include Fruit By The Foot and Dunkaroos.
Share your thoughts with Zac over a snack of Dunkaroos or just send him an email at email@example.com.