When am I ever going to need this?

I returned a library book early.

Two chapters in, I kept seeing references to the last several books I checked out. The book wasn’t making new connections for me, so I stopped reading.

Some nights in college my friends and I would play a game.

We’d split into two teams at the video store. Each team picked a potentially terrible horror movie none of us had heard of. We’d rent them both, and watch a double feature.

Whichever team found the better movie got paid back for the rental by the other team.

I don’t remember many of those movies, but no matter how bad they were, we watched them from start to finish.

I remember in middle school and high school a common complaint that I’d hear (and sometimes say myself): “When am I ever going to need this?”

We’d wonder why we would need the quadratic equation, or how to properly do a flexed-arm hang, or remember some seemingly obscure Supreme Court case.

The answer we usually got was a combination of “It might be on the test,” and “You don’t know what’s going to be useful to you when you grow up.”

I don’t remember the movies, but I remember having fun with my friends.

I don’t remember everything I learned in high school, but more of it turned out to be useful than I anticipated.

That hindsight makes it hard to put something down or walk away. What if I’m wrong about this? What if it turns out to be useful later?

It’s not necessarily that I’ve honed my decision-making skills. There’s less later than there used to be.

I got older, made choices, and there are fewer possible futures I need to prepare for.

Maybe there’s some alternate world where I remember all my math because I work for NASA or Toyota. Maybe there’s another me that kept playing music regularly and retained more music theory and finger callouses.

I can still change and grow. I’m not on a single, set path. But the choices I make are the product of choices I made.

That makes it easier to see the difference between a book that I’m enjoying and a book I can put down.

I don’t know everything that’s going to be on the test, but I have a better idea of what kind of tests I’m taking now.