What we don’t know won’t hurt us. That is a silly maxim we use to justify ignorance as the best antidote to worry. When we know things, we tend to obsess over them or over our inability to use such knowledge to further our education, careers and (eventually) our retirement.
What we don’t know is an ever present companion throughout our lives. It starts at birth, even though we are too enamored of life just then to know it. It is there when we discover for the first time that hot things burn, sharp things impale, and people we innately trust can be the source of unbearable trauma. It haunts every school test, entrance exam, first crush, blind date and marriage proposal. It has the last word in our choice of jobs that have nothing to do with our college major. It is the extent of what we fear when we consider, however briefly, our own mortality.
What we don’t know can be remedied to a limited extent. A lifetime is too short for anyone to become an expert in all things academic, polemic, or legalistic. Big Blue, or one of its heartless cousins, has won at Jeopardy, chess and the Chinese surround game known as GO. But we can learn. Even old dogs can learn new tricks. That thought became evident to me once again as I sat through another workshop to improve on my skills, this one on web site design. I came away knowing at least one thing I personally can do to improvement this site, which bears my name. The only question remaining is will I actually take the time to implement this new found knowledge. The responsibility worries me.
What we don’t know won’t improve us. We can retain the dubious gift of stasis by remaining ignorant. Worry won’t actually keep a respectful distance from our psyche, but true joy will. Vision, attainment and the gratification that comes with success will. Neglect learning and your smart phone will retain a higher IQ that its owner and your car’s built in GPS will have a better answer to the question “Who am I” since it will at least know the answer to the question “Where am I”; and this without input from you.
What we don’t know will remain the answer to all life’s questions and most of our problems.