Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. ~Proverbs 3:13
Over the weekend, I flew down to Arizona for some special family events, leaving Hubby and the older two kids at home while I took the baby on my lap. Baby was a champ, by the way, sleeping through every flight (we had to change planes, so there were more flights than you’d think). And on the first flight, I ended up talking with the man next to me for an hour while baby slept. He was headed down to see his new grandchild, and it turned out we had more in common than I would have guessed.
For example, he works for the company that makes Real Salt, and since Real Salt is based in Utah, my parents had asked me to buy some and bring it to them, so I had a pouch of it in my luggage. He told me more about the company, like the value they place on hiring employees who are willing to continually learn new things and broaden their understanding of health-related topics by reading books and participating in continuing education, etc. That got us started talking about the importance of learning, how he’d felt stagnant in his old job driving trucks because despite listening to books on CD, etc, he didn’t feel like he was “growing.”
I could tell by talking with him how happy he is with his current job and also how much he’d learned (he told me about the minerals in the salt; about how leaving it unrefined makes the difference; how even if bits of dirt get in there, the dirt’s “good for you”).
We discussed the paradox of it, though: that despite the joy of learning, it can also be scary as hell.
He likened it to standing at the edge of a cliff when you first realize how much you don’t know. It’s absolutely frightening to feel so incompetent all the sudden.
I can relate to that! I told him how as I’ve learned about health topics, I’ve felt completely incompetent at providing meals for my family. I’d spent eight years collecting recipes that I suddenly learned weren’t healthy (many of them, for example, relying on canned substances whose ingredients labels I had never even glanced at), and there were a couple awfully frustrating months as I experimented with substitutions and new recipes, amid the grumbling complaints of my husband and kids whenever healthy did not equate with tasty.
Maybe especially because of that plane ride conversation, the proverb above caught my attention when I came across it this morning. Am I really happier with all my new understanding of health? It’s been so aggravating all along the way that sometimes I’m hardly sure. Often I’m more inclined toward the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” Or in my case, “Ignorance was bliss.”
I thought back to Made to Stick, the book I’ve been (slowly) reading about how to improve the longevity of an idea. It mentions proverbs at least a few times, saying, “Proverbs are simple yet profound. Cervantes defined proverbs as ‘short sentences drawn from long experience.’ . . . The proverb is short and simple, yet it packs a big nugget of wisdom.”
I’d have to agree. That’s why I put a proverb at the top of this post. It manages to say in one quick line what it’s taking me paragraphs to get across.
There is a certain bliss to ignorance, but the happiness of wisdom and understanding is so much deeper, and I think in the “long experience” Cervantes describes, wisdom would win out over ignorance. In the long run, I think my family will be happier by eating healthier, the young grandpa I met on the plane will be happier in a job that lets him keep expanding his understanding, I’ll be happier as a teacher once I incorporate the wisdom from Made to Stick, and the temporary incompetence and discomfort we felt will be just a brief memory.
What do you think? Know any proverbs that say, “Don’t worry — the scared-****less, edge-of-the-cliffs-of-insanity feeling of total ineptitude will be worth it eventually and we (the wise, ancient originators of all proverbs) swear that the happiness of wisdom trumps that of ignorance”? Or equally as good, have you had experiences that prove it?