I am coming around to the opinion that there are three types of people in the world:
and Everyone else.
Most times I am like everyone else, but there are times when I am a sage and times when I am a fool. There is nothing like being a fool to make you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. I believe a fool is someone who does not learn from their OWN experiences. Now, I believe there are far too many fools out there. A fool can make the same mistake over and over again and over again. A fool needs a hot stove to learn, but seems to not benefit from the hot stove. After awhile, the fool ceases to lift his or her hand after placing it on the stove. The snap reaction of pulling away is gone. All that remains are burn scars and dazed looks. I’m guessing about 15-20% of the population fit this bill. Conversely, the number could be half that size – but fools seem to get around an awful lot.
Thankfully, I don’t live with that group. I just visit the neighborhood every once in awhile.
Sages learn from the experience of others. If you tell a sage not to touch a hot stove, they not only do not touch the stove, they understand that to do so would be harmful to them. The sage has no desire to touch the stove – not even for an instant. The fool wants to touch the hot stove. The fool wants to see how long they can keep their hands on the stove before it is too hot to touch. The sage does not merely take your word for it – they internalize what you’ve said and actually get it. Sages can usually be told something once. Sages rarely find themselves in circumstances which require a great deal of explanation, clarification, justification or elucidation. I’m guessing that less than 10% of the population fits this bill.
Everyone else learns through their own mistakes. Sometimes, this mechanism for learning is highly inefficient, sometimes it is indispensable. Certainly we all need to learn the art of making love – but the best way is not through our own experiences. That would be like reinventing the wheel. It makes little sense to ignore the wisdom of the ancients here. There are some things, though, that each person and each generation must learn for themselves.
With the twins on the case, I’d like to find that balance between allowing them to be fools, encouraging their inner sage, and ensuring that they learn from their own experiences. Just a little balance for those four little feet.