And Now, Today’s Bit of Ambiguous Yet Uplifting Wisdom, From Athena, Age 10 and Five Sixths

Who informs me that she had the following epiphany today, at recess, whilst on the swings:

Though the sun may rise
And the sun may set
There will always be light in the world.

Think about that, why don’t you.

25 thoughts on “And Now, Today’s Bit of Ambiguous Yet Uplifting Wisdom, From Athena, Age 10 and Five Sixths

  1. Forgive my moment of zen contrariness.

    The unfortunately corollary is that darkness may fall, and darkness may wane, but there is always darkness in the world.

  2. She’s pretty cool, isn’t she?

    I have to admit I didn’t see Andy’s comment as so awfully crapping. If there is light, there must be darkness. They are in balance, always. That’s what creates beauty.

    And btw ALL great wisdom is ambiguous. Otherwise it’s more a specific solution to a specific problem. This is wisdom, and one of the meanings I get from it is that you may or may not have your greatest source of happiness at all times, but there are enough other sources of happiness to keep you going.

    Not only wisdom, but comfort as well, a rare combination. Thank Athena (NFN that name!) for me; I needed that.

  3. Not trying to harsh her mellow. It’s a nice observation but it is missing half of the Yin/Yang tug ‘o war.

  4. Xopher:

    “I have to admit I didn’t see Andy’s comment as so awfully crapping.”

    My response to it may have been as an irritated father, it is true. That said, I’m not sure Athena is positing it as any Zen thing, and may disagree on the idea of inherent darkness/light balance being necessary. She is a radical thinker, she is.

  5. A. Your daughter is made of profound and win.

    B. Proceeding along the philosopher’s path of thesis, antithesis, synthesis, this story:

    One day King Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it.” “If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” “It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” — “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.

  6. Between Athena and your cat, your family is made of awesome. :-D

    Also, I read Andy Smith’s comment as not so much a disagreement as a rather unoriginal knockoff of Athena’s. Her key insight is that our perception of the world is incomplete: light does not come and go from the world, but circles it. To observe that darkness also does not come and go, but circles the world, is much less keen of an insight.

  7. Athena’s comment made me think of a framed poster I found while shopping at a thrift store. ‘No Night is Wholly Black’ is the caption. It is an evening beach scene, colored in varing shades of blue, purple, gray and black with small specks of light. You can see the moon peeking from behind clouds, birds in the sky, and the surf at the edge of the beach. You have to look to see more than the dark, and the more you look, the more you see.

    I was staying in Florida over the summer with my Grandma, and had shared many beach sunsets with her. You could tell whoever created the picture knew sight and ‘feel’ of the beach at twilight once the sun set. Grandma really got the picture *and* caption (having lived through the depression), and bought it for me.

    ‘No Night is Wholly Black’, like Athena’s comment, are words of optomism and hope. They are words which got me through many a dark night.

  8. I’m struggling to come up with a “Nightfall” reference and drawing a blank. I might have to run upstairs (I work in a library) and grab one of our Asimov compilations so I can be witty. Or I could do some work.

  9. j-bird @ #18:

    In my defense, it wasn’t intended to be a keen insight (and yes, it was a cheap knockoff of hers). I have a son a year older than Athena and he is just starting to realize the concepts of light and darkness. Mostly this is because his mother and I have to some extent shielded him from realizing the true measure of darkness in the world.

    I have no objection to focusing on light, but in all things we must remain mindful of the darkness in all its many connotations. Failure to do so is not only a perceptual defeat, but it also endangers your ability to appreciate the light that there is.

  10. I didn’t take Andy’s comment as anything remotely resembling an attack on Athena’s thought. That said, both reminders have a lot of value to them. Just different value, that’s all.

    And then MasterThief went and gave me even more to think about today…

  11. You gotta love a ten-year-old that can come up with stuff like that. Andy’s comment reminds me of a quote that’s attributed to Terry Pratchett:

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”

  12. My little sister once told me that the worst thing I’d ever done to her was to explain the death of the sun at what she didn’t really understand to be some unimaginably distant time in the future. It takes a certain kind of person (and possibly not the person anyone wants to be friends with) to look at something like your daughter’s insight and think about the counterpoint, the profound but incredibly abstract sadness that comes with a basic understanding of heat death and what it very likely (if very eventually) means for our species. The thing about being that kind of person is this: you learn not to share those views very widely, but they still give you a kind of foundational notion about life.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be able to look at a child’s comment as wise and still be able to appreciate the nuance that undermines the simplicity of it. I think that’s what it means to gain wisdom.

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