There are things we know we don't know. (How to get around The Angeles, CA is a timely example.)
And then there are things we don't know we don't know.
Number three, I believe, opens doors.
When I was in Korea in January, I watched my little sister keep hanging up her cell phone on Chong-Ja (the woman we were staying with, who Ella lived with as a child in Seoul).
At first, because I didn't understand Korean, I figured I was missing when my sister would say goodbye. Ella would call Chong-Ja up to ask a question, and then: click. She'd hang up.
Finally, I asked: "Ella, are you being rude to Chong-Ja?"
"No, Korean's don't say goodbye on the phone. They ask the question, or say something, and then they hang up."
What? Not everyone says goodbye in a civilized country with cell coverage?!?
I started calling Chong-Ja, to tell her when we'd be home for dinner, or where we would be going. She would said: "Okay" ... and then click. If Ella had another question, she'd call her back.
I was amazed. This was something I didn't know I didn't know, that in some cultures, goodbye on the phone just wasn't.
And really, it was kind of brilliant. Texting has taken over, I believe, because we don't have to worry about formalities. We don't have to say: Hello, how are you, and goodbye. It's to the point, and efficient--like a Korean phone call.
Until my visit to Korea I didn't even know that I didn't know that outside of my world, saying goodbye wasn't mandatory. I didn't know that there was a place you could hang up on someone, and it wasn't rude. It hadn't crossed my mind as a possibility.
Since knowing this, I now can appreciate America's formalities. They are a part of my culture, my growing up, how I was raised, and my core values. When talking on the phone, I can be grateful that my friend asks how I am. I realize I have a choice to say goodbye, or just hang up, and that I choose to say goodbye, and I appreciate my friends who do the same.
I didn't appreciate this before knowing it was unique to where I was from.
When we are children, things we don't know we don't know are our entire world. We're constantly learning. We're a sponge. We're seeing the world, and picking up the pieces, forming what we know, and realizing what we don't know. It becomes how we process our world, and it forms our ideas and opinions.
When we get older, those habits, ideas, and thought processes become more solidified, and we're not as open to things we don't know we don't know. They become harder to learn. We become stubborn. At least our mind does, without even knowing it is happening. It's probably why comedians aren't as fresh and hilarious as they get older (just follow Steve Martin on Twitter, and you'll know what I mean), Or why I feel it's too late for me to learn French. (...I know, I know, it's never too late. But it does get harder the longer I wait!) It's probably why people are their most creative before the age of 40. ( at least, according to Trey Parker, and Matt Stone). Our minds aren't as open to learning things we don't know we don't know as we naturally get set in our ways.
These are all just thoughts going through my mind, and I'm trying to figure out how I can be more open to things I don't know I don't know. I am already open to learning things I know I don't know--I desire to be continually learning, and I do want to know every state capitol sooner than later, and how to get around this new city a bit easier. I know that I don't know how to oil paint, and I'd love to learn. But what about the things I don't know I don't know - How can I learn those things?
I believe there are things we don't know we don't know that will benefit our lives greatly, but we just don't know how to figure out what they are. Things we don't know we don't know can help us be more secure, happier, be more proud of ourselves, help us better our relationships, form healthier habits, rid us of addictions, be more patient, make us more grateful, help us understand what we do know better, make us more compassionate, allows us to communicate more openly, make us stronger ....
There is a quote I have always loved by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us."
I love it, because I think that this is exactly what happens when we discover things we didn't know we didn't know. And to acknowledge and accept things we didn't know we didn't know can also make us more humble, as we realize there is so much to learn ...
I wish I could have some great big conclusion to this, to tell you now that I am going to go learn all those things I didn't know I didn't know, but the irony is I don't know what they are. But what I can do is say that I am going to be more open, and more humble, realizing that if I allow my opinions to be open and malleable, my mind to be aware, and my eyes to pay attention, I can keep my mind more childlike, discover a mind that startles me, and watch doors open.
I'll also try to keep wondering without googling. So far, not good. So far, really bad, if I'm going to be honest.
Lastly, here are some cell phone shots of this years trip to Korea ... A place where I learned so much, and made memories with my sister that I will never forget.
I'll try to post a few more tomorrow.
|Ella and me in Chong-Ja's Apartment.|
|Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day, at Chong-Ja's|
|Chong-Ja. She loves cooking. I love eating. We got along great.|
|dressed and ready for her 2-hour trip to church (she cooks the night before, and brings sushi for the nursery children). With 3 hours of church, and 4 hours of total travel, it's a full day. (For church-goers, makes you grateful, doesn't it?)|
|Some of Chong-Ja's art. She is an incredible artist, and it's actually how she met my sister Ella. Ella was 5-years-old, playing outside a restaurant, and Chong-Ja started painting her. When Chong-Ja realized Ella needed a home, she moved in.|
|Chong-Ja's sketches of people she sees in the subway|
|Ella at the Korean History Museum in Seoul|
|Sisters at the Museum|
|Korean Face Masks while Face Timing with Benjamin|
|Friday Night, Gangnam Style. For reals.|
|loved the architecture of Seoul's museum|
|evening tea. It had pine nuts in it. so delicious.|
|We have street tacos. They have street fish cakes. yum.|
|Ella and Chong-Ja|