Ignorance is Bliss

I’ve thought about posting more on Facebook. I’ve toyed with the idea of sending more status updates into the cyberworld that attempt to capture how I’m feeling, how my body is doing, or what my current health status is. But in the end it always feels a bit contrived; it feels like I’m trying to evoke emotion from my virtual friends, and I just can’t bring myself to do it…and I honestly think we’re all the better for it. Adding to it, I also don’t want my identity to be utterly and completely wrapped up in my health status–though at times this feels like an impossible task–I am not my disease.

Even further, if I were to post constantly about my health the reality is that in some ways we’d all be better off. Because ignorance is bliss. Seriously. It is. Right? You’d treat me differently if you knew that I hadn’t been out of bed until ten minutes before I was supposed to meet you for dinner and that twenty minutes after we parted ways I was throwing up in my bathroom toilet. Things would feel different if while sipping coffee together you were aware that my no-no private areas were covered in a burning and infected rash that makes it difficult to walk or move. You’d see me a bit differently if I let you know the depth of my constipation, the severity of my headaches, or the discomfort that my skins heightened sensation brings. I could go on but I won’t…because that would defeat the whole point (and it would probably get even more awkward than it already has!).

The point is that it’d get really old. You might disagree with me because you’re a nice person, but the reality is that for ninety-five percent of you out there it would get really old if every time we sat down together or on every other Facebook posting you were hearing about my ailments. But it would be practically useful wouldn’t it? Isn’t there a level of honesty that’s lost when we’re together and you don’t know what I’m carrying?

Ignorance is bliss.


Ignorance might not only be bliss but it might also be necessary…and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Isn’t this how things generally exist? Isn’t it the reality that I don’t usually know the stuff that you’re carrying when we get together? At times you’ll share about your mental, spiritual, or emotional baggage that you’re carrying, but in general this stuff doesn’t come up and I’m also functioning in ignorance. Is it necessary? Must we live in ignorance in order to function effectively or are we settling for a lesser form of relationship when we do this?

Honestly I’m not writing this blog as an expert or as someone with answers to the questions that I’m raising. Rather I’m writing this as someone who is living in this mess along with you and is genuinely wondering if this measure of ignorance is avoidable, if it’s healthy, if it’s a necessary evil, if…I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m not going to post my constant ailments, I’m not going to lay out for you over coffee how many hours I did or didn’t sleep last night…well…not unless you ask…because unless you want to step out of the peaceful word of ignorance I’m not going to force it on you. But if you ask, if you want to step into that world I am glad to open myself up to you and I am more than willing to step into your world as well.*

So ignorance is bliss for certain–but knowledge just might be even better…right? Maybe?


*  The irony, I guess, is that this requires me to ask you now doesn’t it! So…how are you? Hmm, I’m going to have to develop a better question than that. I guess next time we overlap at coffee or somewhere else I’ll try to practice…unless I happen to want to dwell in ignorance that day…or did we decide that ignorance is evil?

5 thoughts on “Ignorance is Bliss

  1. There's a balance. As you have mentioned… some people can tolerate what you're going through and some pull away. On a lesser level of average everyday stuff. No one wants to hang around with a "whiner" but we need to be honest with a select number of people that can tolerate our "messes". Then we can listen and tolerate their "messes" and build deeper relationships with a few people. We're not designed to have that level of understanding with everyone. Just like Jesus had levels of relationship, we need similar levels. If you think about it, there were those who would risk "busting" Jesus when they thought he was crossing a line, and similarly he would "bust" them when they crossed the line. Makes me wonder… How successful would someone be at "busting" Jesus and would that get frustrating?

  2. And then there are those that are aware and are not ignorant. There are those that have been there, done that. They don't mind hearing the truth. Every day does not have to be carried with grace with every single person.

  3. I loved this post. I enjoy all your posts so much. I like the honest stuff and the humor. It also breaks my heart for you and your family. Thanks for sharing. Keep writing. I hope you do have people you can tell every detail to…no matter how awkward. I think it all needs to be said out loud by you. I think it ALL needs to be heard by at least a few of those closest to you. There's honor in that.

  4. Great comments! I added on facebook and throw it up here too 'cause I think its important to clarify that balance is most definitely important and as my friend Brent said in a message to me, there are many reasons why someone might not ask how someone else is doing and they don't all fall into the category of ignorance! At times people don't ask cause they're trying to be respectful or they're trying not to be 'that guy' (as one person said to me) or they're trying not to bug me (or whomever else they happen to be connecting with). Those are all great points and I think it further clarifies that I'm just pairing with one brush stroke here on a painting that deserves many colors.

  5. Gosh Ryan, this is a really good blog. Last year, when Alex and I were living close to poverty level and some days I couldn't get out of bed because I was so depressed by this – often, the most we got (from many people) was a sympathetic nod of the head and a half hearted "I'll pray for you". I seriously believe they didn't want to know. They seemed afraid that it might "touch them" or as if it was "our fault" that Alex's industry (mortgage broker) when down the toilet so quickly. But, there were those select few that did pray WITH us. That loaned us money "no questions asked". That asked those hard questions. I try to ask the hard questions. I WANT to know how you really are… I want to know about the headaches, the lack of sleep and have been wondering about your pain level and many of these things. That way, I can pray more specifically for you. I'm definitely not perfect in these matters, but I do agree with you Ignorance is Bliss for most people, but there are those who really do want to know.

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