“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15).
A friend emailed me an article the other day. The article reviewed a study covering 5,000 genius children for 45 years. It was titled “A Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth” or SMPY. I am puzzled over the email’s implication, but I remain too old to take offense.
I read the article with some interest. After all, I wanted to know how I rated. Curiosity is not foreign to me. In the fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Sturgeon, handed me an envelope to take to the office. Important envelopes should be sealed and fourth-graders need to be accompanied by guards.
I can still see the classroom and Mrs. Sturgeon’s approving smile. I remember walking past my class, toward the door leading to the office. The hallway was quiet, the waxed floors glistening, reflecting light. Curiosity may be the softer side of temptation, and on this day, my softer side surfaced. On the way, unguarded, calculating time and opportunity, I opened the envelope to see my test results. It was my IQ.
Years later, I told my children this story with some pride. I wanted them to know I was smart enough to open the envelope. They didn’t buy it. “D-a-a-a-d,” came the response. I experienced the same rejection when recently, I attempted to hook up my new smart TV. It almost beat me but determined not to let it win, I called in reinforcements.
Our own eyes deceive us. We see and do not comprehend. Left to our own devices, our pride represses our guilt, re-framing temptation into curiosity. “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes,” says Proverbs. I surmise there are a lot of fools walking around, especially fourth-graders gliding alone in quiet hallways. Competing for nothing more than center stage, life subsumes my waking moments into a tapestry of frustrations amid eternal joys. Recent circumstances tell me life is something to be lived and engaged. The tapestry reminds me I know what I know, but outside of what I know, I know nothing. The vast frontier of what I do not know humbles me.
As Mom always said, “A word to the wise should be sufficient.” Her inference never left me. I should be wise enough, humble enough, to seek wisdom from those better, smarter, older and more experienced. She meant I should never cherish my own pride, make sure character wins over behavior and know my limits. We are called to be better than we are. It’s a damn hard thing to do. Curiosity could well be the artful dodger picking our mind’s pocket leaving us void of (or at least diverted from) God’s true intent while we glide alone in quiet hallways. Alas, we are not saved by our wits, just some good old sufficient grace.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at email@example.com.