One of my favorite cinematography moments was when Cypher was talking to one of the Agents in the Matrix and said: “I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.”
So the question I woke up this morning with was the same. Is ignorance really bliss? I asked google the same question. Jennifer Kunst, author of the “The Headshrinker’s Guide to the Galaxy” emphasizes that children are often ignorant to realities of the world and that is probably a good thing. They learn to explore their environment and perhaps, just maybe, can be the one to question what the rest of us consider as “just the way it is.”
I recently joined corporate america. I spent most of my life teaching computer science and running my own company. In my experience thus far, I have encountered resistance to my new ideas, my bluntness in approaching new paths. I have had people even tell me that I was ignorant to what really was going on, that I did not understand why things were the way they were. That what I was doing had been tried before. My first reaction was, bah, I will overpower you with my brilliance and fortitude! However, maybe the institution is the way it is for important reasons. Maybe my ignorance is causing me to miss some very important concepts and the zeal of my attempts to disrupt are actually defeating the long term strategy. In that case, ignorance would not be bliss. However, maybe the organization needs to a really good kick in the butt and therefore ignorance really is bliss. If I was paralyzed by the knowledge of all this fear and risk, then would I be willing to be so disruptive? Probably not.
One of my children had a bright idea to start a business one day. His business had lot of holes. The ship was going to go down immediately and I knew it. His business idea had no possibility of success. I was definitely NOT ignorant to the realities of starting a business. However, I had a dilemma. Do I shut his enthusiasm down by giving him knowledge of what he is up against? Or do I let his youthful ignorance charge forward and discover on his own? Really hard question. I let him try to get it going, even funded the start up. He and his business partner failed after the third day. However, I am thinking that was a good experience, so perhaps I chose correctly.
In the back of my mind, I am thinking if there actually is a God in heaven that he is laughing at me right now, saying exactly the same thing. What am I ignorant of I wonder? You cannot know what your ignorant of because you are ignorant to it. However, once you find out, then what?
That is the question for this morning. I am referring to my weaknesses. Some of my weaknesses are easily identifiable. I am not ignorant to those. That is a constant fight. I just cannot resist ice cream. I do not know what it is, but even when I am eating and following a completely healthy diet there will come a day when I will buckle and eat ice cream. It is inevitable. That is a weakness that I am not ignorant to. However, when it comes to these “sins of commission” we are all pretty good at identifying those. However, the hard part are the unseen tendencies, the preconceived notions, the biases, the behavioral reactions that we do not realize that we are doing.
If we became aware of those weaknesses then it would be a harsh realization for us. We would real in shock in much the same way Neo did when he realized the world was not real. Suddenly, our universe changes when we discover that all our problems were self imposed due to an unseen weakness of our own. My question this morning, phrased in another way, do you want to know this weakness, or are you happy not knowing? Would you rather continue on, pursuing your life’s passions without the knowledge of the major weakness that you have and do not even know about? Is self actualization a good thing in this case?
The initial reaction is that I definitely want to know. However, we do have to pause and consider. Perhaps we should only know when we are prepared to know. There maybe certain times in life when you are just not capable of handling such a revelation about yourself. Perhaps, self actualization is a good thing but must come by the drip and not all at once.
I set out for the last 84 days to push myself extra hard to meet an objective that I set for myself. This “sprint” experience has not all been successful. The last 74 days are riddled with failures, and now as I am wrapping up my sprint I am doing a lot of reflection. What have I learned in this process? Well, that is the point of this blog. I have learned that I have some major weaknesses that I only vaguely knew about but now they are acute and obvious. Pushing myself beyond my ability has produced one clear result – the exposure of weakness. So now I am asking myself this question, is ignorance is bliss?
I know what I am up against now at least. I know what the demon really looks like. No need to be afraid of the dark anymore. Now I can be afraid of the actual monster that actually does live in my closet. It was worse then I had imagined. When I was a child I was sure that some thing was dwelling in my room that had malicious intent and was ugly, scary and ferocious. Well, it has taken me a half of century of living to realize that my child self was right all along. There was a monster in that room, and it was myself.