How do you manage your knowledge? What do you do about the inevitability of losing the skills you don't practice?
Throughout my education and work life I've studied a lot of diverse stuff and used a wide array of skills: different scientific literatures, different software, different foreign languages, and so on. As leisure pursuits, I've also done random athletic stuff, some sketching, and a bit of dance.
But the things that I know best and practice on a regular basis are a small subset of all the things I've ever done. And this subset changes: I was comfortable with a different set of skills in the past, and I suspect I'll use very different skills in the future. The rest lie dormant, rusting.
I feel some regret that I'll never be able to perfect and maintain every skill I've ever learned. I'll never be fluent in every foreign language I've studied, I'll never beat every game, and so on. But I realize that it's not a realistic goal. On the other hand, it feels bad to let knowledge that took weeks and months to develop go to waste.
The questions, then:
- What are some things you used to know or used to be able to do? How do you feel about not keeping up with them?
- What are some things you've kept practicing, even though they might no longer be useful or required of you? (e.g., you played an instrument as a child and still do as an adult, but not professionally)
- How do you decide what to "let go" of? Do you ever consciously decide?
- How much of your personal identity is in the things you know or can do? Does your image of yourself guide which skills you maintain and which ones you don't?
Personal anecdotes appreciated.