This past weekday was my birthday. It is a rather old one, at least relatively speaking, and it got me to thinking that there are many old sage sayings like, “The more I know the less I understand” or “The more we learn, the more there is to learn”, and on and on. I don’t exactly see how that is possible. My experience is that I do, in fact, know more than I did last year. I‘ve had new experiences this year, and I have built stronger relationships with old friends and began new ones.
Does this give me more knowledge? Maybe. Does this make me wiser? Maybe. Does this increase my understanding? Maybe. I think the more relevant issue here is not what we don’t know, but what we do know. It has to be more, it just has to.
For instance if we explore a new possibility, say rock climbing, then we will surely be exposed a considerable amount of information to which we had no previous knowledge, knots, arm strength, fear, terminology and so on. Some of these become immediate new learnings and understandings which should add to our overall life knowledge. Some of these might even change our perception on specific things. And some may even compel us to make a life change. It’s most likely that new experiences like rock climbing will, at the very least, broaden our life understanding and provide us with more insight and understanding than we had had previously. Doesn’t this surely make us wiser? It should.
The only reason I can think of why it wouldn’t add to our ‘wisdom’ is that unfortunately, we also become aware of all that we might not know. What we do not know about knots and about arm strength and even our fears. What we don’t know and the fear (that often follows) should not block the wonder of what we do know, although this a commonly shared response for many of us.
Embracing our coming years with expectation that our knowledge will invariably grow is part of our responsibility as an adult. I believe we are built to learn. It is one of the strongest forces in our survival mechanism. We learn more and we pass on the knowledge, focusing on how much we don’t know is not helpful. We do in fact often get information that opens us to our ignorance, but if it is balanced by what we know and just learned it should be greater than our ignorance. That’s the idea. We may have to set aside any fear the new information exposes and let what we learn as we age stand alone. It is a great gift to our children and younger people. I believe we can and should trust in our learning, not fear what we do not know.