What You Know That Just Ain’t So

In the midst of the disruption and turmoil that can be found around us, I have been reminded of the quote that began with Mark Twain and then was adapted by the great Negro League pitcher and philosopher Satchel Paige:

“It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you know that just ain’t so.”

We seem to be having an epidemic these days of “what you know that just ain’t so-itis.”  There are many reasons this could be the case, but an important one is that we’re bombarded with information that requires work on our part to filter and understand.  Warren Bennis has written that “adults learn best when they take charge of their own learning.  Taking charge of your own learning is a part of taking charge of your life, which is the sine qua non in becoming an integrated person.”  Consider where we get information today.  In our interconnected yet at times isolated world, we all fall into the trap of letting others tell us how to think.  It is easy to let others take charge of what we learn.

Satchel Paige

Satchel Paige

What we know should be seen as only the starting point.  Author Colum McCann suggests that writers should not write about “what you know, write toward what you want to know.”

 “In the end, of course, your first-grade teacher was correct:  we can, indeed, only write what we know.  It is logically and philosophically impossible to do otherwise.  But if we write toward what we don’t supposedly know, we will find out what we knew but weren’t yet entirely aware of.  We will have made a shotgun leap in our consciousness. We will not be stuck in the permanent backspin of me, me, me.”

In times of turmoil, it is important to focus on what you know, what you don’t know, what you want to know, and what you know that just ain’t so.

Have a good week.

More to come…


Happy Birthday Satchel Paige

Satchel PaigeToday would have been the 103rd birthday of Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the legendary pitcher from the old Negro Leagues.  Boston.com has a column about Paige by Larry Tye, who has written a well-received biography of the baseball star.

Tye’s column contends that Paige was a subversive to the Jim Crow laws of his era:

But there is more to Satchel’s legacy than eye-popping records. While many dismissed him as a Stepin Fetchit if not an Uncle Tom, he was something else entirely – a quiet subversive, defying Uncle Tom and Jim Crow. He refused to play in a town unless it supplied lodging and food to him and his teammates, a defiance for which young civil rights workers later would get arrested.

Paige is known for many things in baseball, but most remember him because of his turn of a phrase.  The Brainy Quote website has a host of Paigeisms, including:

Age is a case of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.

Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.

And his most famous line:

Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

Happy birthday, Satchel Paige.

More to come…