Things aren’t always what they seem. You should never “assume” anything because it makes an “ass” of you and “me”. You can’t judge a book by its cover. These are all clichés, but true.
There is a fable about three blind men encountering an elephant. The first blindman feels the elephant’s tail and thinks it is a rope. The second one feels the trunk and thinks it is a firehose and the third feels a leg and thinks it is a tree. Their failure to recognize the elephant as an animal is a lack of curiosity, not a result of their blindness. They did not feel the entire elephant or compare notes, so to speak, about what they each felt.
Take Chinese Checkers. The game is not a variation of checkers and it did not originate in China or even in Asia. The game was invented in Germany in 1892 and was called Stern-Halma. Stern, which is the German word for star, refers to the star shape of the board. Halma comes from a Greek word meaning jump and is a square board game invented in the United States around 1883. In 1928, the game’s name was changed to Chinese Checkers as a marketing scheme in the United States.
Names can be misleading in horticulture too. Mexican bamboo isn’t native to Mexico, nor is it even a bamboo. The other name for it is Japanese knotweed and is more accurate. Dutch elm disease cannot be blamed on the Dutch. The Dutch, however, isolated the pathogen. It is believed to have originated in the Himalayas. Ground beetles appear dark and dangerous, but they are good bugs devouring bad bugs such as aphids and grubs.
Guinea pigs are not really pigs and they do not come from Guinea. They are a species of rodents and originated in the Andes. Likewise, koala bears aren’t bears. They are marsupials and are more like kangaroos.
Another thing that comes to mind is the story on the internet about the school teacher who walked to work and took an apple from the green grocer each day. This was reported to the school principal who fired him. The principal then went to the man in charge of the fruit and vegetable stand and apologized for his former teacher. The man told him that the teacher was his son and he actually owned the shop which he bought to give his father a job.
I once worked with a nurse who when you saw her out with her husband, they would be holding hands. This happened in the mall, at parades and work functions. The rest of us thought this was so sweet since they had been married over 20 years. One day, she told us she was leaving her husband. We were all shocked and mentioned the loving gesture of holding hands. She then told us that her husband was very jealous and controlling and holding her hand was just another way of controlling her. He would never let her go in a store by herself or be alone with friends.
Another nurse was very happy go lucky, telling jokes and making noises like one of the Three Stooges. He brightened the patients’ day. We all thought he must love his job and had a happy home life. He did love his job, but we later found out that he had a hemophilic child at home who was a constant worry for him. He spent many nights up late with his son either giving him injections or in emergency rooms to control the bleeding. His jocularity was a way to help him forget his worries and brighten his own day.
It is said that elephants never forget. Surprisingly, the paint on the Eiffel Tower weighs as much as ten elephants. Who would have thought that? Clouds look light and fluffy, but they are really heavy. The nice, white, fluffy ones that are seen on sunny days, called cumulous, weigh 1.1 million pounds. Think about this. There are millions of pounds of water floating above our heads. That is the same weight as one hundred elephants. The weight is spread out into a million droplets over a large area. Some of the droplets are so small that it takes a million of them to make a single raindrop.
In every situation, take nothing for granted. Be like an elephant and never forget to think about those one hundred elephants overhead. If you don’t, you may get rained upon.