Is It Better Not To Know?



I’m not one for sports movies in general.  I was, however, moved by a scene I saw on Facebook from the movie “Facing the Giants.”  You may have seen it.


In the scene, a coach hears his best player taking a defeatist attitude and decides to teach him a lesson.  He makes him agree to crawl on his knees, with another player on his back, as far as the 50 yard line.  He then puts a blindfold on the player and lets him go.


Of course, the coach yells at him the whole way.  Of course the kid wants to quit but doesn’t.  And, of course, the kid actually makes it, not to the 50, but to the end zone.


What made this an interesting scene for me was the blindfold.  That element of the scene transformed it for me and provided a powerful idea:  knowledge can get in your way when you’re trying to move forward.

I wouldn’t ever advocate for ignorance.  It’s great to know as much as possible before you undertake something, and to keep learning as you go.  The danger lies in making predictions based on what you know.


Speaking as someone who fights to escape his own self-created stories, I know very well the danger of that kind of speculation.  It’s very easy to make a decision based on what you think you know, about yourself, about the future, about life.  Because the information is flawed, the decision may also be flawed.


It’s so elegant to see the football player go so much farther than he ever realized he could because he didn’t have a sense of where he actually was while he was doing it.  He was forced to rely on a more immediate awareness of his body, instead of his idea of where on the field he would be tired.  What’s the analogy for a creative person?


Personally I’ve always wanted to know where I was on the road to fame or success.  And as I’ve approached an age where I no longer believe in the certainty of either for myself, I’ve struggled a bit to keep going.  This movie has made me change my mind about the blindfold.


Okay, I don’t know where I am on that road.  Why should that matter?  My job is to keep going until I have nothing left.


In fact, if I knew where I was on that road, or if I insisted on speculating, I might give up now.  I’d decide it was too hard or too far.  Instead I’ll focus on moving forward and taking the next step, and I’ll leave the blindfold on until someone tells me I’m in the end zone.




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