I’ve heard more than a few people say it, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who heard the adage and furrowed their brow and squinted their eyes and pondered the point of making such an obvious statement.
It does seem pretty clear that if a person doesn’t know something… then yeah, a person doesn’t know something.
I was on what Johnny Rivers referred to as “The Poor Side of Town”, which coincided with a stomach that was growling like an angry grizzly.“Lemme take your order. I get off in seven minutes,” the slightly put off waitress told me. She was ready to hit the door when the long arm on the greasy filmed old clock on the wall struck twelve. I assumed her less than friendly demeanor was because she assumed the tip would be landing in someone else’s pocket.
The already mentally checked out mid-thirties girl snatched a napkin from the beat up and bent old dispenser, “Can I borrow your pen?” she demanded.
I reached toward her with the pen already in my hand. She grabbed it and froze. Her sense of urgency to get out of the old grease trap momentarily forgotten.
“Wow… that’s a really nice pen,” she was talking to herself more than she was me.
“It is,” I agreed.
She studied the writing utensil, twirling it in her hand. She was transfixed by polished chrome and contrasting shiny black onyx parallel inlays on the pen, a gift from my daughter.
The waitress, who did finally get around to taking my order, didn’t know my affinity to fine pens. She didn’t know pens like mine even existed, but neither did I when I was her age.
You don’t know what you don’t know, I guess. Which is a lot like, “Hindsight is twenty/twenty”. The quotes point to inexperience, innocence, and ignorance.
Back in the day, one of the more “in” ways of saying the same thing, or close, was, “You don’t know what you’re missing”, but “not everything that glitters is gold”.
I like pens, so does the waitress, but just because my pen looks good doesn’t mean the words the ink leaks from its tip are worthy or honorable. And just because I have the nice pen, doesn’t mean I’m smarter or better than the girl.
I’m certain that even though I’m much older, there are things the waitress knows that I don’t, and might not ever. Especially about the restaurant business.
What a person knows about the fine things in this world means nothing compared to knowing about the One who created it. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is that we know where we came from and where we’re going when our hearts take their last beat.
Nice things of this world will mean zero. And that’s not the time to contemplate hindsight. And the adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know”, won’t seem so clever.