Is Ignorance Really Bliss?


I’ll easily admit that the best part of my week is teaching a youth climbing class for six to eight year-olds. Their constant energy and zest for life is refreshing to say the least. Last week one of my favorite little boys invited me to his birthday party. A few minutes later he angrily took back the invitation when I corrected him on tying his figure-eight knot. By the end of the class we were friends once again.

I share this story because lately my mind has been on expectations. It feels like no matter whom I speak with or what situation I find myself in, the same conversation takes place. What are you doing with your life Are you in a serious relationship Will you get married and have kids What are your goals and how will you achieve them And as I think about these questions, I find myself wondering how and when this confusion set in. How does a young child live so vivaciously and with such optimism To be young and have my biggest worry be how many kids I can invite to my birthday party. When and how do we, as adults in this contemporary society, become defined by expectations When did loving life and people and brief moments stop being enough And who are these magical people who create these definitions of happiness and perfection Are they airbrushed models on the cover of magazines, or are they people who claim to have it all when really they got lost along the way?

My guess is that the most brilliant and real people in this world are the young children. Some deem them innocent or ignorant. Really what they demonstrate is a blissful truth. I am by no means delusional in my thinking that we can all go back to a magical time, when we had no worries and no responsibilities. As Freud would say, that is regression my friend and not the most healthy coping device. ? What I am suggesting is that we rediscover and embrace that inner child. Most of us that love the outdoors are trying to rekindle that relationship. We climb rocks because it gives us that sense of exhilaration and freedom. We run marathons because we are curious as to our physical limitations, even when we know better. And we travel to exotic places because we crave the new experiences and people we will most certainly find there.

My guess is that every person has these desires within them. My guess is also that these desires have been pushed aside and forgotten because we live in a society which values other things. My challenge, on a personal and greater level, is to fight the urge to conform and to rediscover that innocence. I am a bit saddened to think that it required me being in a concentrated environment with six year-olds to remind me who I once was. We are intelligent and motivated people, and there is no reason that this challenge should escape any of us. How is that for expectations?

Last modified: February 2, 2010

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