We are constantly acquiring updated technology, which solves many of our first-world problems. These solutions provide variety and educate us. With the development of these helpers, outmoded skills may begin to disappear altogether. For instance, a few months ago, I locked my cellphone and my keys inside an office building. The evening was quickly fading and I had no access to either my contacts via my phone or my email.
Ten years ago, my memory was impeccable with phone numbers. Once I had dialed a specific number a few times, my mind could retrieve those digits as needed. But, here I was, stuck in a parking lot with no memorized phone numbers. Here’s the clincher…I also did not know my boyfriend’s number. That seems ridiculous, I realize, but if I wanted to reach him, I would simply find him in my contacts and call. There was simply no need to know his number by heart.
As a result, after a worried hour or so, I borrowed a random someone’s phone to access my Facebook account and messaged a friend to have my boyfriend call me on that other number. With access to my memory of yesteryear, there would have been little chance of this stressful situation. Needless to say, I have his number memorized now along with the numbers of other important people in my life, just in case.
Keeping this example in mind, if you had the opportunity to teach 5 skills to a millennial or the generation just now entering adulthood, which ones would top your list? We may never need any of them, but knowledge is power. I’ve included my top five below.
1. How to build a fire: First, you must understand the mechanics of a fire. Once you know the best way to place the tinder and arrange the fuel (wood), this knowledge could be priceless in an emergency situation. Even with the use of a lighter, building a sustainable fire takes practice. Attempting to build one without a lighter is much more difficult, but worth it. Once you can “make fire”, you will feel like Tom Hanks character from Castaway. If you haven’t seen it, you should!
How to learn- Watch YouTube videos or take a free class at an outdoor store like R.E.I.
2. How to tie knots- When I think of knot tying, my mind immediately goes to sailors. While you may never live on a boat, the ability to tie specific knots is handy for much more than boating. You may use it to hang a clothesline, attach your keys to your pants, or make a quick leash for your dog out of a piece of rope. In order to learn different knots, you must have three things- examples, rope, and patience. This skill requires repetitive practice of each knot until you know how to tie it like the back of your hand.
3. How to mend- The availability of inexpensive socks has made the need to darn them almost non-existent. While we may never have to fix a hole in our socks, the ability to reattach a button or mend a seam that has begun to unwind can come in handy. Many stores sell tiny sewing kits for just this purpose.
4. How to drive a car with a manual transmission- As a skill, this particular ability may seem over rated. The majority of cars sold today (roughly 94%) have automatic transmissions. Let’s imagine, though, that you are out for the evening with a good friend. Your friend falls and sprains her ankle. She drove for the evening and is now unable to drive home and asks you to do so. Without a question you say sure and then realize that her car has a manual transmission and you have never driven one. This situation has happened to quite a few people I know.
How to learn- Ask a friend who owns one to teach you in an empty parking lot. If that is not an option for you, use these links to get an understanding of the differences: Beginners Guide to Driving a Stick Shift and Learn to Drive Stick from CarTalk. Once you have that information acquired, inquire to see if anyone will allow you to practice.
5. How to open a wine bottle with a wine-key- Most servers, whether still employed as one or not, have opened a wine bottle using a small tool called a wine key. They are small, easy to use, and convenient. I have a couple of these and I also have an expensive corkscrew which opens a bottle with ease, but appears complicated and unnecessary. Having this skill as part of your repertoire is impressive!
How to learn- There are quite a few videos available on YouTube and this link is also a great resource how to open a bottle of wine using a wine-key corkscrew.
Curiosity is not a negative quality, especially when used to learn and develop a variety of skills. While you may never need any of the above, all it takes is just once. Once you have found ways to do something, take the time to practice and find what works for you. Keep those skills well-tuned by using them regularly. What other skills would you add to this list? Please comment below!