The Lamentable Companion of Knowledge

I believe I had an epiphany this morning. It seems the longer I live, the less I see life through the lens of awe and wonder (innocence, as we’re so fond of calling it in children). I have always been the one who pursues knowledge with a need to know why. However, I have found this pursuit to be an endless cycle of dissatisfaction. There is, in a sense, a thorn that accompanies every new discovery (with some exceptions of course). The question with which I’ve been wresting is this, “Is there validity to the old adage, ‘Ignorance is bliss'”?

If you’ve seen the movie, The Prestige, you remember that Angier’s love for magic is seeing the astonishment on the faces of the audience. The movie ends with the narrator’s words, “Now you’re looking for the secret, but you won’t find it because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.” There is, in fact, some truth to these words. The knowledge of the secret hijacks the wonder of the trick. Unfortunately, this seems to be true in many areas of life.

I read an essay this morning by Mark Twain, “Two Ways of Seeing a River”, in which he describes our perspective from innocence contrasted with our perspective from knowledge.

Being one who finds exhilaration in the pursuit of knowledge, I always had difficulty putting king Solomon’s words into perspective, “he who increases knowledge, increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18, ESV). Sorrow, the companion of knowledge? Indeed, and I believe Twain’s essay accurately unpacks Solomon’s musing.

I plan to expound on my personal thoughts and applications in my next post, but I would like to ask everyone to click on the link above and read the essay by Mark Twain. And if you are so inclined, share your thoughts of it.

I hope his insights leave you appreciating the wonders of life. God bless you in your journey of growth.

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