Tag Along –
One of the more interesting things to watch as the two men we hired to remodel our bathroom is how one of them tags along behind the other. Clearly one has the experience, the know-how, to redo the bathroom and overcome any obstacles they encounter. The other, younger one, has the strong back and follows orders instantly. Whatever the older needs his assistant retrieves so the work can be done as quickly as possible. I’m not sure how much the younger knows but I do know he is under no illusion that his knowledge matches or surpasses the veteran builder. Wherever the seasoned worker goes the other tags along; handing him the tools, wood, drywall, fixtures and whatever else might be needed. They seem to make a good team.
I was talking with some men last week and asked them if they’ve ever encountered a “know it all?” Every one of them raised their hands. “The problem with ‘knowing it all’, I said is you never learn anything.”
A wise man once said; “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with people who disagree with you.”
Socrates said; “True knowledge begins
in knowing that you know nothing.“
What We Know –
Wisdom begins when we realize we know nothing.
Philosophers tell us that everything changes, doesn’t stay the same. Mountains wear down, skies fall, mighty trees topple and the greatest among people are but a wisp of wind, sound, and fury signifying nothing.
Reducing our ego is one of the hardest wisdom disciplines. One of my favorite wisdom proverbs says; “Take compliments and criticisms with equal value.” Too often we believe the good and ignore the not so good. It’s easy to focus on what others like about us. We wrap ourselves in the words of friends, families, even those whose positivity drips off their tongue like poison, people who see us mere objects to use to further their objectives. Ego builds us up only to be pulled out from under us by someone with a bigger, stronger ego. We fight back and when one take on another, no one wins and out of control egos only destroy never heal.
Humility is wisdom’s greatest and most difficult lesson. Saying; “No” to puffery and stroking; “Yes” to a self-awareness that leads us to a place where our egos are not bruised, or quickly heal, from a careless word, a selfish act, a purposeful plan to defame, defraud, demolish. Wisdom tells us; “Smaller egos take less time to heal because the wound isn’t as big.”
Socrates once said; “There is true joy (bliss) when we realize we know, and are, nothing.”
The alarm clock in our bedroom runs eight minutes fast. It’s a clock that should automatically synchronize with a radio signal and display the correct time but for some reason it doesn’t. We have an identical clock in the living room and it’s time keeping is excellent. In the mornings when I glance at the bedroom clock I know it’s actually earlier than the time shown. With this knowledge I stay in the warm bed just a while longer. It’s like discovering eight extra minutes!
After getting up today I wobbled into the kitchen and decided to fix myself strawberry and apple cinnamon muffins. I cheated and used the instant; “just add milk” brand, quickly prepared them, placed them in the oven and set the timer. Seventeen minutes later I heard the beep, opened the oven door and checked to see if they were ready. The muffins were golden brown but still felt mushy. I reset the timer for three minutes and closed the oven door. A few moments later the timer went off again and I rechecked the muffins and they were dark brown, almost burnt! I’m not a cook or a baker but quickly surmised that though three minutes doesn’t seem long it can make a big difference when it comes to muffins!
Time is a fickled thing. Eight extra minutes of sleep in a warm bed is wonderful, three extra minutes for muffins in an oven? Not so great. When we want an hour, a day or a season to pass quickly it seems to drag on but moments and events of joy and blessings pass quickly.
However time seems to be moving for us, as Bruce Lee, the great martial artist and wannabe philosopher, said; “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” Socrates echoes the sentiment when he revealed a great truth; “Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think.”