We’ve all heard the age-old axiom “ignorance is bliss.”
Yet it seems ironic when we consider the ever-connected, information-saturated society we live in where you can know or learn anything by simply asking Siri or querying Google.
But are there times when it’s better to not know and remain ignorant?
My husband, Joel, recently had an experience with an ancient coin that made me question my relentless need-to-know and changed my perspective in an amazing way!
It was the last day in 2013 and we had spent the week touring Turkey for our first anniversary. Joel and I had started off the day exploring the ancient city of Ephesus and then visited the nearby village of Şirince that is famous for their local fruit wines. As we returned to our hotel, we made plans to head down the western coast to find a nice restaurant on the harbor for a special New Year’s Eve meal. The perfect end to an amazing year!
As an avid runner, Joel took off for his evening run before dinner. Since he’s normally gone for 45 minutes or more, I was surprised when he burst into our hotel room only ten minutes later with an excited look in his eyes.
“You’ll never believe what just happened!” Joel exclaimed, almost out of breath. “As I was running by the castle ruins, I came across some locals who dig for treasures around the ancient sites, and look what they found!”
Joel proudly held out a large, metal coin that looked hundreds of years old. Now this special find has some important context. Ever since we met, Joel has wanted to own an ancient coin. While we’ve been living abroad in the Middle East, he’ll often stop at local markets and souks to see what the merchants have for sale. So this was an extraordinary and much-anticipated moment!
Joel went on to explain that the man who found it had given it to him to bring back to show me so we could determine what we thought it was worth. Shocked at the level of trust this stranger displayed, we settled on a reasonable price, and Joel left eagerly to pay the man and soon returned with his new treasure.
Over dinner later that night, Joel took out the coin to inspect it more closely. Still curious about it’s origin and value, I inquired “How much do you think something like this is worth?”
Joel paused, looked up, and then said something that forever changed my perspective.
“I’m not sure,” he started. “But I’ve decided I don’t ever want to know.”
While his words surprised me, he continued, “If we research it and find out it’s worth much more than we paid for it, we may be tempted to sell it and then our treasure is gone. And if we discover it’s worthless or a fake, we’ll be disappointed. I’d rather not know and keep the mystery alive.”
What Joel held was no longer simply any old coin. With this conversation, the coin transformed into a symbol of hope and possibility. You see, you don’t always need to know the value of something to understand it’s true worth.
Sometimes it’s better to be ignorant and keep hope alive.
The lesson of this coin is far bigger than any price we could have paid for it because it shows us that there are times in life that having less information is more powerful than knowing it all.
How do you keep hope alive?