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Ignorance is Bliss?

February 8, 2011

I was in the shower this morning and I began to reflect a little bit on my childhood.  Tracing back to one random night in fifth grade, I was complaining to my parents how much I hated school.  At the time, my dad was working as an international sales trader on Wall Street in New York City.  Getting up at 4:30 in the morning and arriving home around 7-8pm was his daily routine.  Not once did I ever hear him get upset about his 80-90 hour workweeks.  The ongoing joke he used to have with me was, “Mike lets trade places for the week, you go into work for me, and I’ll take your spot in the classroom”.  Back then, this sounded like an amazing idea!  I remember having many dreams of myself waking up before the crack of dawn, putting on a suit and tie, kissing the wife goodbye (bear with me here, this is 11 year old me pretending to be dad), heating up a pot of coffee, and listening to Don Imus from the time I step foot in the car, until I reach port authority (where my dad parked everyday).  Once I show up at the office, I immediately hear thousands of voices, one the louder than the next.  Numbers flashing everywhere on more televisions than I can count, and people pointing their fingers in every which direction and running around as though they are about to miss the 6:30 train to hell.  I would always wake up from these dreams, “nightmares”, whatever you would like to coin them, and I still wanted to trade places with my father.   This seemed a lot cooler than going to a boring 200 person middle school everyday.  Was ignorance bliss back then?  Is it still now?

Breaking down the three-word phrase, “ignorance is bliss” intrigues and perplexes me at the same time.  I like thinking back to my childhood days sometimes because it allows me to kick down the innovation door.  Any dream is achievable when you are nine years old.  You want to be an astronaut, a professional baseball player, or a rock star?  At that age, you stretch your arms out, and they can keep stretching into a sky of unlimited opportunities.  Nobody ever says, “Time to grow up” or “that stage of your life is over now”.

We are all in a race against time, and every year seems to fly by faster than the one prior.  I always look back from the time I was about five through the age of sixteen, and it seems like that timeframe was endless.  Sitting in class watching the two hands on the clock, anxiously awaiting that magic bell that would send us on our way.  My peers and I would always count down the days until Halloween, thanksgiving; holiday breaks, and summers… We were basically counting down the days until ignorance is no longer bliss.  The question remains…what is the underlying theme of “ignorance is bliss”.  This phrase has stuck with me for so long, and I heard it for the first time on one of those middle school nights, when little Mikey Rolland was bitching to his parents about another long boring day with his witch of a teacher, Mrs. Ross.  My dad came over and patted me on the back and said, “ignorance is bliss Mike, just wait until you’re in the real world”.

Reality is different for everybody.  What makes an individual unique is the fact that each one of us sees things from different perspectives, based on many past experiences that all culminate together.  Am I living in the real world right now? Is it possible that you can be ignorant and happy simultaneously without negatively affecting others?  I am still stuck on “Ignorance is bliss” and why the three-letter phrase has had such an impact on my thought processing lately.  I never have depicted ignorance to be in any type of positive light.  However, there are certain situations in which it is better to be happy because you don’t know.  A perfect example of this is when one of my grandmother’s died when I was four years old.   My parents had been gone for what seemed like a year (at four years old, time is of no value), and I had a nanny at the time named Victoria.  The sweetest Jamaican woman in the world, her smiling face and charming demeanor was rarely altered.  She came over to me and said that my nana was going to be going on a very long vacation and that I wouldn’t be seeing her for a very long time.  This is one of the first memories that I have that revolve around ignorance being bliss.  I was too young to grasp the concept of death, and it wasn’t until almost a year later that I realized that my grandmother wasn’t coming back.   Was it better off for Victoria to sugarcoat the situation so that I would avoid hysterically crying and being scared?  There is always a time and place for ignorance, and bliss comes and goes by the day.  Think about what “ignorance is bliss” means to you.  Maybe there is no meaning behind it whatsoever and its just something to say.  Food for thought… haha there you go I’m ending on another one (food for thought).  Should we eat, then think, or is this solely a play on words?  Don’t you just love those phrases that keep you on the edge of your toes?  Those hot showers always bring me justice!

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