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The Art of Unlearning Assumptions

During last year's Easter break, I had an experience while staying at a spa hotel by the Baltic Sea. There was an indoor swimming pool in the spa area where the incident took place. I witnessed an elderly woman slipping and falling heavily on the floor. I immediately rushed to help her, but she aggressively rejected my assistance, insisting that I get off her. Feeling a bit taken aback, I decided to move along and left her there on the floor. A while later, her daughter or possibly her niece came along and helped her to her feet. There was no gratitude or acknowledgement from her, and she simply walked past me without saying a word. At that moment, I assumed that she might have been embarrassed by the situation, especially since she was only wearing a towel when she slipped. Perhaps she felt uncomfortable and didn't want a stranger helping her. So, I brushed it off as a matter of embarrassment and put the incident out of my mind.

However, recently I shared this story with someone who responded by saying, "Well Grace, that's one of those people who would rather die than be saved by a foreigner." I was shocked and somewhat offended by this comment. Firstly, I never feel a sense of separation or difference when encountering people, and my offer to help came from a genuine place in my heart. I saw her as someone who could have been my grandmother, regardless of her origin or mine. Secondly, I asked the person why they would think such a thing about that poor woman. The response I received was, "Grace, look around you. Look at what is happening today and remove the blinders from your eyes."

I couldn't bring myself to see it from their perspective. I didn't want to feel hurt about what happened over a year ago. After all, I didn't take it personally at the time, so why should I now? However, I couldn't shake their words from my mind. They occupied my thoughts every day, and beneath it all, I felt a growing sense of unease. Then it hit me: a seed had been planted in me when I heard my acquaintance's perspective on my experience. Now, I had two choices: either uproot the seed and its first roots or water it and let it grow, making myself miserable for the rest of my life. I couldn't change the experience, and I would never truly know what was going through that elderly woman's mind when I tried to help her. So, should I hold a grudge against someone who couldn't be bothered, or should I let it go and continue to believe in the inherent goodness of mankind? Of course, I chose the latter for the sake of my sanity and peace of mind.

And that brings me to a powerful concept I would like to share: The Art of Not Knowing.

Before I delve into it, I must say that I initially pondered the idea that acts of altruism are sometimes perceived as suspicious by certain individuals. Perhaps that's what happened in that incident. There are also people who believe that if someone does something for them, they must reciprocate or that the person performing the altruistic act has ulterior motives. Consequently, such individuals tend to reject offers of help or acts of altruism directed towards them. This was one way I tried to make sense of my experience, as I always strive to consider other possibilities before jumping to conclusions.

However, in order to put the matter to rest, I came to the conclusion that sometimes not knowing can be a blessing. Hence, "The Art of Not Knowing." Knowledge is undoubtedly important, and without it, mankind would not have evolved to its current state. But there is a certain wisdom that comes with "unlearning"… [Read "The Art of Not Knowing" via the button below].

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