Only An Idiot Would Sit Under An Apple Tree

Rebecca came home with her first Science homework of the new school year, which was to write a newspaper article about a famous scientist. I overheard Hannah and her discussing who discovered gravity. Hannah hit the nail on the head when she stated that it was some guy who was sitting under a tree when an apple landed on his head. They initially were of the belief that this ‘guy’ was Albert Einstein, until I gently corrected them it was Isaac Newton.

I’m a font of useless information. I tend to do quite well in quizzes and set me in front of a television game show and I usually get more questions correct than I do incorrect. I always win family board games as I am a 48 year old man who shows no mercy to his wife and children in such settings. They must be crushed. I tell the kids it’s character building but they look strangely at me and shrug their shoulders.

This competitive streak runs through any activity I undertake. I want to be the very best at what I do, be that working, running or writing. I push myself to the limit. My obsessive nature comes to the fore and I’m off to the races. The same applies to the kids. As I stand on the sidelines at Adam’s rugby matches I am kicking every ball and making every tackle with him. Yes, I am that Competitive Dad you all love to hate.

It’s a pity this competitive nature doesn’t carry over into every area in my life. For example, the kitchen. I can operate an oven and cook basic meals reasonably well when I put my mind to it. If I’m given enough time and rigidly follow the recipe I can do it. But, by and large, the kitchen is a foreign environment to me, full of weird and wonderful implements which I have no idea how to operate.

This became very evident when Fionnuala proof read a chapter of the book and howled with derision at my reference to chromeless steel kitchen utensils. I obviously meant stainless steel but this utter lack of such knowledge of such matters means it is necessary that I share the manuscript with as diverse a range of beta readers as I can find. Otherwise, howlers like the above could slip through the net making me look stupider than usual.

Despite knowing a lot, I don’t know everything. None of us do. We all have grey areas in our knowledge banks, fields of learning where we will never sit at the top of the class. We cannot be experts at everything we set out to do. If we aspire to absolute excellence then we are headed for a short, sharp shock. Nobody likes a know all because, at the end of the day, they know very little about their own inadequacies.

Wisdom is knowing that these areas exist and relying on others to support and educate you so as you don’t end up with egg all over your face. Wisdom is listening and soaking up information as opposed to blundering on, wreaking havoc due to your ignorance. It’s important that you gather these people around you to guide you through the murk and gloom of the grey area, to emerge unscathed on other side.

I’m sure Isaac Newton didn’t know everything. Otherwise why would he have sat under a heavily laden apple tree and earned a bang on the head for his troubles.? Albert Einstein didn’t exactly set the world on fire at school, either. Wisdom does not equate to intelligence and vice versa. A healthy dollop of both is necessary in order to avoid the many pitfalls life throws in our path at such regular intervals. Use your grey matter to fill in those grey areas.

What are the grey areas in your life?

How do you seek to fill them in?

What is your favourite invention?

46 thoughts on “Only An Idiot Would Sit Under An Apple Tree

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  1. This is an excellent point to keep in mind when elections are coming up and everyone is being criticized for not knowing enough about the economy foreign affairs, social issues, etc. As you say, nobody knows everything about everything. So beware of the person who thinks he does! And vote for the person who knows people who know, and who is humble enough and wise enough to seek advice from them. #ignorantaboutmoststuff

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  2. Unless you work in the medical field, I have no clue what you do. I can’t imagine any job keeping someone busy besides helping them. My husband is a pipe fitter. He doesn’t something with pipes and can run oxygen and suction lines in hospitals. That’s my understanding. I look all medical stuff up that I have never heard of. Otherwise I’m a clueless wonder in other areas!!

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  3. My grey area is mortgages! Pretty important stuff but I honestly have no clue what rate we are on, how long for, I’m even a little shady on what company we are with! I’ve tried to pay attention at the appointments with the mortgage advisor but the most I can manage is to nod and smile as the numbers and jargon go over my head!I’m not ashamed to say, I just don’t get it! 😂 Thank goodness I have someone that does is all I can say!

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  4. There are times I would love to be the know it all – I want to avoid asking for help but I am not God 😞😀

    My strength : words and organization. My weakness: numbers (for some weird reason except with doing my own budget) and I am so-so at cooking (not every woman likes being in the kitchen)

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  5. There are too many grey areas in my life to list them here, plus it would bore you and your readers to tears. I love learning new things, hence my love of reading. This is a great post. Thanks for this.

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  6. I have a tendency, like you, to be obsessive about things that I love. Physical exercise being one. If I’m interested in something then I’m simply mad about it, potty about it and fairly well informed about it too. If however there is something that bores me (I have a very low boredom threshold) then I take no trouble to learn about it, am irritated that I am lacking in any understanding of it, am irritated therefore by myself and huff and puff until two minutes later I’ve forgotten all about it and am happily bouncing around in my fluffy little world again. Things I have no knowledge and understanding of: the offside rule (is that even football or rugby?), maths (I loathe it, and although I am quite good at darts weirdly, I can’t do the maths quickly enough), cryptic crosswords (although normal ones I love) and truly understanding how ‘horsepower’ in a car is worked out. I’m good at scrabble though and made a point of beating the Colonel 7 times in a row on holiday which drove him mad as he’s rather clever and I’m not. (But ‘ordains’ using all 7 letters on a triple word score I must confess made me get very overexcited – ok so I need to get out more …)

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  7. The whole purpose of knowledge is to know the extent of our ignorance and to be humbled and inspired by it to know more. My ignorance is as much a vital part of me as is my knowledge. Without one the other could not exist and we couldn’t step into knowing. The great thing about you as a writer and as a person is that you made a choice long ago to know your fears instead of allowing your ignorance of them to guide your life.It is not only important to understand that our ignorance is vast but to also enter into a relationship that inspires our curiosity to know more. 🙂 Loved your post.

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  8. I hate to tell you this but the story that Isaac Newton was hit on the head wasn’t actually true. It’s one of those apocryphal stories that people keep telling.

    “Here’s what the website History.com says about it: Legend has it that a young Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree when he was bonked on the head by a falling piece of fruit, a 17th-century “aha moment” that prompted him to suddenly come up with his law of gravity. In reality, things didn’t go down quite like that. Newton, the son of a farmer, was born in 1642 near Grantham, England, and entered Cambridge University in 1661. Four years later, following an outbreak of the bubonic plague, the school temporarily closed, forcing Newton to move back to his childhood home, Woolsthorpe Manor. It was during this period at Woolsthorpe (Newton returned to Cambridge in 1667) that he was in the orchard there and witnessed an apple drop from a tree. There’s no evidence to suggest the fruit actually landed on his head, but Newton’s observation caused him to ponder why apples always fall straight to the ground (rather than sideways or upward) and helped inspired him to eventually develop his law of universal gravitation. In 1687, Newton first published this principle, which states that every body in the universe is attracted to every other body with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them, in his landmark work the “Principia,” which also features his three laws of motion.”

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  9. I’ve got Meela currently riding a camel, and so I ended up having to do a lot of research on camels as I know a few things about them, but for all I know the things I’m aware of may be urban myths. I often feel I need to recheck things I’m not totally sure on. So I’ve done all this research on camels for a passage that might only end up being a couple of paragraphs. Maybe I should have just invented my own camel-like creature then I could make up what it’s like as I went along 😉

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  10. Math was my weak spot in school – hilarious when I went on to be a laboratory technician and a fair cook. Cooking is ALL about science and ratios.

    I think my favorite invention would have to be clean water. I’m just not woman enough to pull stuff up out of the well and sanitize it.

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