A little knowledge

Circa 1990

You will have heard it said that ignorance is bliss, but I don’t know.

I mean, yes, sometimes it is as well not to know that you’re heading towards disaster, the fuel gauge is stuck on a quarter full, your fly is open while you’re giving the welcome back speech at your school reunion. It surely makes it easier if you don’t know that the boss’ nephew has already got the job.
Not knowing that you have no chance to succeed doesn’t affect the final result, you still take the prat fall, but it helps you to get there under your own steam. This is a great source of independence.

We spend half the time telling ourselves to look on the bright side of life, and there’s a reason for that. If we didn’t keep our eyes resolutely on the bright side of the moon, we’d have to recognise there’s at least half that is cold, bleak, and empty. The optimist knows as much as he wants, the pessimist more than he needs.
But we’re stuck with knowing what we know and the only real problem is trying to deny it. Generally, it’s as well we don’t know the twists and travails on the road ahead. If we knew how many thieves, landslides and plain misadventures that will cross our path, we’d never start out. Forget motivation, the desire to succeed, or the will to win. Ignorance of the consequences may be the one absolute necessity for us to embark on any actions at all.

Nothing is unalloyed. It’s borne ineluctably upon everyone, sooner or later, that there are no free kicks, no open slathers and no ying without the necessary yang.
The knowledge of this is the main difference between the young and the old. It explains why age is cautious and youth is reckless. To the young, the world is all gain, a game where the winner takes all, where the rewards go to the swift and the strong, and victory is pure and absolute. They are still unaware that life has a habit of making sure it doesn’t happen like that.
Man is born to choose, that is his best and his doom. There’s not a day
goes by but we’re out there making decisions that could affect the rest of our lives without sufficient information, without insurance, without anyone to share the risk.

Where is the manual that comes with this life, the guarantee against defective parts, the fall-back clause? Even doing nothing is a choice when it comes down to it and invariably it’s the most popular choice of all. The too-hard basket is the fullest, the one we like to ignore.
Sure there’s a sort of half-assed wisdom in this slackness. Quite often the best course of action is to do nothing. Mind you, just as often, the price of doing nothing is the missed opportunity. The quick are still out there but the dead are numerous.
If there is anything to the idea of destiny, it has to do with how we live with the consequences of our actions. This is the fire of mankind, the testing of character, the famed karma of the east.
Our decisions were taken in a rush, there were extenuating circumstances, we didn’t even know the gun was loaded.
Ignorance is no defence against the law. Just because we don’t know there is a law against doing whatever it is we’re doing is no excuse. They could be writing the particular law that’ll hang us even now.
The world is full of dangers we haven’t begun to recognise. Paranoia can be a healthy appreciation of the harsh reality or it can lead to an extremely twitchy way of life. I don’t know if they’re really out to get me or if parking cops, bookies and telephone canvassers just stumble across me every time they’re looking for someone to persecute.
I suspect that the man who keeps his head when all about are panicking – simply doesn’t know the full story.

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