ignorance is bliss


We went out yesterday to enjoy the early spring weather. Though we had a rather fierce snow storm at the beginning of winter, there has been far less rain than usual. And in the last couple of days, it’s been warming up. The birds, the wild animals, the reptiles and the ground hogs all have the impression that spring has arrived. Even snakes have been reported, coming out of winter hibernation, and eager to find food and sustenance. It is only we humans, with calendars and statistics going back hundreds of years, who find it hard to accept that spring is here. We worry. We could have another cold front, or another winter storm before the season comes to a close.

this is not woven material, but mud on the dried creek bed

Chana and I went out to enjoy the wild flowers yesterday. We went to visit the anemones, look at the daisies in the field, and admire the blooming almond tree. There were still some bunny ears in the air… those fantastic cyclamen flowers that grow wild in our area. We saw some wild orchids, and some domesticated horses, carrying young ladies across grass covered fields in the hills surrounding Jerusalem. It was a sun drenched day, and as the day progressed, the air warmed up. Like the water that freezes in the cold, I too become rigid and hard in the cold weather. But give me a warm day, and I become expansive, taking pleasure in the rejuvenation of plants and animals.

anemones on the forest ground

Ah, but there were dire warnings on the radio. This early spring would just mislead the wildlife. There would be a new generation now… but there wouldn’t be food for the young in a few weeks… My father, a learned scholar who pushed me to study… he was my teacher, and a hard taskmaster, used to say, ‘ignorance is bliss’. A strange mantra for a scholar… and one that stayed with me through the years. The Tao of knowledge; awareness is life, ignorance is bliss. From the time of Adam and Eve, human beings have wanted to know… to know what they were made of, to know their environment… to know how long we have on this planet… to know the secrets of life… to know what the weather will bring tomorrow… And still, the ignorance of the ground hogs, and of the birds scurrying around to build a nest in the middle of winter… that ignorance is bliss.

ladies on horseback

Standing in the forest, I looked down and saw acorns under my feet, and then noticed the rapid evacuation of wild chickens that had been enjoying the plentiful plant life which had sprouted in every direction. The forest was emanating life. Here and there were arbutus trees, those lovely evergreen trees with their wide dark green leaves and the red bark on their trunks. They were the jewels of the forest yesterday, and around them was that buzz of life… that mad enthusiasm of living things in the throes of a sunbath. Of course, we human beings worry about what lies ahead. But the rest of nature exulted in the warmth and the pastoral beauty that had appeared to grace us ahead of time.


I’ve been visiting my new home lately, to spend time with my cat, Nechama. She’s been very disturbed by what she’s been through for the last few months, and has some serious reservations about me. She doesn’t know if I’m trustworthy anymore. But little by little, she’s adjusting to the new house and the new environment. She has the feeling that the worst is over… and soon we will be back together for the long haul once again.

the blogger and his cat

And the new house is beginning to look like a home. There’s reason for optimism. We will have a living room surrounded by large windows from which we will be able to gaze out at the new neighborhood… and the freeway that will take me home from downtown. And out the backdoor, there is a footpath all the way to a local park… just the place for a gray cat to climb trees and admire the birds. All of this is just about to happen. Rest assured that you will receive my reports.

arbutus tree

And meantime, as I fantasize the pleasures of my new home without yet knowing the disadvantages… ah… there are so many reasons to celebrate… my new library, a beautiful balcony surrounded by nature… my place in the city I love… ah yes, ignorance is bliss.

the flowers of the almond tree


72 responses to “ignorance is bliss

  1. Wonderful photos… 🙂

    Yeah we human use the calender much, maybe too much – but the nature have its own rules – no matter what we humans try or not try – I guess we human are more negative than animals and plants in nature – they are positive and have always positive waves about the weather changes sometimes too early… 🙂

    • Very glad you liked the photos, ledrakenoir. We do have a great desire for order… we make rules, trim our grass, prune our trees… and so on. Nature has different rules. Thanks for the comment.

  2. How beautiful post… To learn or to feel like a student myself always so exciting and the power of life, also I think. Wonderful photographs and I l am so glad to hear that you both came together, I was wondering your lovely cat. Blessing and Happiness, Thank you dear Shimon, love, nia

    • Yes, of the many different jobs and positions I’ve held in life, the most exciting and entertaining was being a student… and I’m still there. Last week, I was just visiting Nechama at what was about to be my new home. This week I’ll talk about her some more. Thanks so much for your blessing, Nia.

  3. Lovely that spring is showing up there– we have had a bit of thaw but more cold weather predicted. I love the 4 seasons — early signs are always a treat. Enjoy.

    • This spring comes temporarily and in spurts… Today it is raining again, and quite cold. But it was very good to have a taste of blue skies and flowers in the field. Thanks, Lisa.

  4. Dear Shimon,
    What a lovely thoughtful post. The photographs are beautiful. I enjoyed getting oriented in your new neighborhood. I have missed Nechama, so it’s nice to see her curled up on your lap, also adjusting to the changes in her life.
    I go through the winter wishing and hoping for snow, which is a rare treat in Seattle. But there comes a time, usually after the crocuses and primroses bloom, that I am ready for springtime and no longer hope for one last good snow. Springtime came early here, too, while winter still rages back east. My aunt in Detroit has fifteen inches of snow on the ground, as does my sister up in Alaska. It might be wet in the Pacific Northwest, but it is green and mild, and I am ready for spring. I hope your springtime decides to stick around!
    Best wishes as you settle in.

    • Our pets usually suffer what we dish out to them. And because they can’t always express themselves in detail, we assume that they understand just why they have to suffer. But in fact, they get to be a lot like us. They learn our characteristics and our mentality. And sometimes, they have to go through traumatic changes without really understanding why. It pained me to see just how bad Nechama felt after being removed from he environment, and staying with others for a few months now. It is good to enjoy the seasons, Naomi. And I suppose we’re always in the mood for spring. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, my friend.

  5. I could feel the warmth emanating from these photos, Shimon, and thank you for that, as well as the beautiful invitation to be like the blooms and newborn life, allowing moments to happen without too much fretting about what’s to come…Anticipation can be so lovely, though, and our human right to hope and look forward in joy seems to define us as much as our tendency to complain when the present smacks us with its poor and flawed realization of our lovely dreams…so I do hope for your joyful reunion with Nechama and I look forward, in happy anticipation, to stories and photos that celebrate your new home. 🙂 I LOVE the photo of you two companions and all the books behind you. And may rainfall fill the streams to abundance!

    • Yes, you’re so right, Kitty. Just as the flowers bloom, and the grasses surge forward with spring weather… it is natural too for us to discuss the weather and complain about it… and to try and out all of the world into our sense of order. And the truth is that I have a great love for human beings… even if I laugh at our antics. The reunion with Nechama has been very moving for me, and I plan to write about that on my next post this Friday. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Your beautiful Nechama looks quite content in your lap, Shimon. I’m so glad spring is coming and your new home is shaping up. Even though it’s still winter here in Colorado, I’m excited to be ordering the seeds for my vegetable garden this week, for I, too, know spring’s coming!

    • We’re having some rain today, and it’s cold outside. But it was good to have some spring days in the middle of it all, and I suppose we all anticipate the rejuvenation of nature come spring. For me, it’ll be very special this year, having just moved into my new home. More about that this Friday. Thanks for the comment, Cathy.

  7. Ah Shimon…this post is the anemone in my morning. What a wonderful post to begin the day!

    • So glad you enjoyed the anemones, JH. I had a number of pictures including some close ups of the individual flowers, and it was hard to decide what to share. But the experience as a whole was very good and upbeat. Thanks.

  8. Your early spring weather looks so wonderful and your description of nature reminds me of these lines from Rumi:
    “And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.”
    I’m so happy to hear you will soon be settled into your new home. We are in the process of remodeling a home and are looking forward to being moved and settled by the end of the summer ourselves.
    I hope Nechama is at peace again soon. I love the picture of you holding her and seeing how happy she is in your lap. Our cat gets very frantic and stressed when there are new things going on so we will probably have to re-earn his trust too when we move and have our baby.
    All the best to you Shimon!

    • That’s a great quote from Rumi, Kari Ann. I am already in the process of rearranging my life in my new home. And though it’s a lot of work, and has me busy all the time, it gives me a lot of hope to finally be here and to be putting my life back together. Cats are very sensitive to their environment. Congratulations on your expecting a baby. That is truly wonderful news. I’m so happy for the two of you.

  9. I am so happy for you, having found this wonderful new home! It was waiting for you. How lovely to have living room windows looking out on the neighborhood and a backdoor to a path leading to a park for you and Nechama to take your walks on. Would that we could be more like nature and just do what comes with each season without worry or concern over what is to come.

    • Yes, though I was very attached to my old home, this new one does seem to be very comfortable in many ways. I am still getting to know it, and learning about the possibilities. But it is nice to explore and to learn the ins and outs of this new home. There is still a lot to be arranged, and sometimes it’s hard for me to remember where things are. But on the whole, it’s a good experience. Thanks for your comment, Angeline.

  10. I enjoyed the virtual walk. Looking forward to reading and viewing your new home, Mr. Shimon! Love to get a glance of the city view from your large window. Have an enjoyable day!

    • Appreciate your joining me, Amy. My next post will be all about my beginnings in the new home. And especially for you, there’ll be a glimpse through the window of my living room. Thank you so much for your comment.

  11. Well, looking at you and Nechama there I would say you are well on your way to being forgiven. What a lovely pic of you both. I enjoyed this post and seeing your spring, however early. The almond blossom is delightful and the anemones are stunning, those and poppies are probably my favourite flowers. That blue sky almost dazzled me, how beautiful to see it.
    I’m so glad we don’t have a crystal ball and little knowledge of what the future brings, yes, ignorance sure is bliss at times….I’m really happy to hear how the house is progressing, and about the park and balcony….how very exciting. Here’s to there being NO disadvantages, you’ve had your fair share of those.xxx

    • As it happened, you were right. That picture was from the first time she was willing to sit on my knees. At the beginning, she acted as if she didn’t even recognize me. I thought it would take a long time. But she has already gone back to her old habits, and eats out of my plate, and sleeps in my bed. It seems as if she’s letting bygones be bygones. Still, we are both adjusting to a new reality. And speaking for myself, as good as it is, it’s a little hard for me to get used to so many changes. I put something somewhere, and then forget where I have put it. It’s quite frustrating. But I hope I’ll adjust soon. Thank you for your good wishes, Dina. By the way, I love poppies too… eat poppy seeds on bread. This Friday, I’ll tell the story. xxx

  12. I enjoyed this lively post and photos, and the sense that you yourself are feeling more expansive and are nearer to moving into your new home. Ignorance is bliss indeed – especially when it gives us the excitement of knowing that there is still so much more to learn! Happy spring-in-winter.

    • The long trial is over, Gill. I am learning the realities of my new home, and there is much to be grateful for. Still, at my age, there is so much I was used to… habits and routines, and knowing exactly where everything was. Now I’m having to adjust to different conditions, and sometimes it’s frustrating. But I do have hope. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Hey! I’m delighted to see Nechama. I’ve been doing a bit of ‘ignorance is bliss’ in not asking you about her. Though Ii’s odd, I felt a wee gap which Nechama always seemed to fill in posts previous to your nomadic sojourns.

    We’ve been seeing some very interesting pictures of the curving Jet Stream, perhaps you have seen them too. Your pundits may be right about spring darting in and out again. The Jet Stream path is very unpredictable at the present time. We’ve certainly had extremes of weather in Northern Europe as a consequence. Canada and parts of the USA have also experienced strange weather patterns too.

    There’s a definite spring in your step in this post.

    • Yes, it was the momentary spring weather, and seeing Nechama again… and knowing that the new home was almost ready. It was all a good influence. I have just moved in now. And as good as it is, there’s a lot of adjustments to be made, and I;m no longer as flexible as I used to be. But I’m keeping the positive side in front… hoping not to make a fool of myself. There’s no doubt we’re getting strange weather in many parts of the globe. But so far, the fluctuations are something we can live with. When we think of some of climate changes in the distant path… the ice ages, and the vast changes in vegetation as a result, it really gives us something to think about. Thanks for your comment, menhir.

      • The things you can do but, cannot do so easily, just take your time. Sit and rest when you need to. Always make sure you have your bed in place and made up, a chair to relax in with Nechama; that you have somewhere to make a meal, even with basics, like a primus stove, if a cooker is yet to be installed and have your personal effects available in the bathroom. Curtains/ blinds can be assisted with, you don’t have to take risks.

        Reduce bending by having your boxes [of books and kitchenware?] at either chair or table level when you unpack them. Where you cannot place stuff temporarily, say, till a fix is in place, then leave it where it is, though not in a position where you might trip over whatever it is. If you have to use a ladder, make sure it is a stable one. I’ve seen a few lethal ones in my time and acted as stabiliser at the bottom rungs on some. This is not to be recommended!

        Shalom and good wishes for you in your new home, Shimon. x

        • Thank you for your good wishes and your good advice. I will try to be careful. It’s true, that in a new place there are a lot of challenges I’m not used to. But the hardest part for me, is remembering where I put things because my old ‘regular places’ no longer exist. This causes frustration and desperation at times. On a few occasions I thought I was getting senile. But I suppose I’ll learn a new sort of order here..

  14. Cease the struggling
    with that beyond control.
    Storms will come
    The sun will shine.
    Night will turn into day.
    For that is the cycle of life.

    A friend sent me that verse today and it seemed worth sharing here.

    • I like this verse very much, Gypsy Bev. It tells one of the most important lessons we can ever learn in very simple language. Thank you for sharing it here.

  15. See, if you would have posed in front of your bookshelf instead of to the side of it, we would have been able to read the titles. You have a library; I’d like a library.

  16. LOVE your photo of you and your cat!! You should do that more often. Now If you don’t mind, bottle up some of the aroma from the almond blossoms so I can experience it. 🙂 And yes, I will expect your continuing the blog of your domain.

    • Thank you so much, Bob. The big event has just occurred, and I plan to write about it on Friday. It’s not easy to adjust to a different version of ‘home’, but I am optimistic. And the reunion with my cat, Nechama, has been very symbolic, and encouraged optimism.

  17. janetweightreed10

    It has made my day to see the photograph of you and Nechame together. I can imagine it’s been quite traumatic for her, and you, but as you say it wont be long before you are back together again…..in your lovely new home.
    Oh, if only we humans could take each and every moment as it comes….and not worry about futures that for the most part we have no control over.
    Yes, indeed, ignorance is bliss. :)x

    • Oh my dear Janet, your wish for humans is my silent prayer. I remember once hearing a humorous story about a couple who bought a lottery ticket together, and then started fighting about what they would do with the money they thought they’d get. That’s the way I look at most forecasts, even though the weatherman is sometimes correct. So often, we hang on to the unbelievable, and let it drag us through the mud, rather than accept each hour with a grin and a lot of appreciation. Nechama has had a hard time indeed… but she’s so happy to be back together with me, she’s forgotten how mad she was at me. Fortunately, we’re doing quite well.

  18. Oh,the flowers, the sky. Nechama and you together!
    I don’t fully agree with “ignorance is bliss”It’s the excuse men give for not helping in the home and probably used by women too. And being ignorant or innocent can be dangerous with people .Not to mention if you are walking near a cliff without knowing it. Sometimes cattle fall of cliffs
    On the other hand, there is a state of” notknowing” or “unknowing” which is common in mystical traditions such as Buddhism.I am pretty sure in Judaism too.
    This book below was very well known but now nobody seems interested here. But I like it.
    Hang on there and you will soon be enjoying a spring time walk right from your own home ,drinking spirits on the balcony, smoking all night and sinning as much as you can given your early old age.You are a mere youth compared to many of my acquaintance so time is on your side.


    • Thank you very much, cool lady, for the image you painted of me, sinning in my new home. I can only hope that this image will be realized every day of my life, and all the better if I can do it unknowingly.

      • No, dear man,because it’s not a sin unless you do it wilfully and with full consent.I am wondering what you might do.Drop raw eggs off the balcony as people walk underneath?Empty a bucket of water in a similar manner preferably with perfume in it from one of your girlfriends,Sunbathe nude in full view of the neighbours.
        The problem is when you are older,people don’t realise it’s a sin and so tjhey assume you have lost it.
        Why is sin so attractive?I guess it’s a sign of independence…

  19. Wonderful post, Shimon. I’m still smiling.

    And it’s great to see you and the (almost) always welcoming Nechema.

  20. Glad you’re enjoying your new home at last and I’m sure Nechama will settle in well too eventually. Lovely photo, by the way (you and cat)

    • Thank you very much, Fatima. It is a great relief to put an end to my wandering days. Now I have to start learning how to manage in my new home and new environment…

  21. Purring for you and Nechema … smiles … Love fom Canada, cat and Theo (my cat 🙂

  22. Another lovely post full of the optimism of that spring brings. I think your lack of rain is perhaps because it all fell here in the UK. We too have been enjoying some nice early spring weather and as you describe Shimon, the plants and animals are stirring into life. Ignorance is bliss is a saying that I too grew up with. There is certainly a lot to be said for it. I’m so pleased that you will soon be home and Nechama will once more be settled. My cat gets herself in a terrible state if I go away overnight and a longer departure really upsets her but once I’m home, things settle back to the way they were and I have a happy, chatty, purring cat once more. I love the portrait by the way, super picture!

    • I’ve finally moved in, Chillbrook. Not everything is set up just right. There’s more work ahead. But it is completely different having my own home again. And my relationship with Nechama is coming right along. We are getting back to old habits and customs. Thanks for the comment.

  23. Hello! All the best in getting yourselves re-established in your new home. Nechama, comforting kitty, we hope you love your new INDOOR home, as we suspect you’re admiring the birds as one admires Zagat listings!

    • Appreciate your good wishes, 2geeks. And yes, Nechama seems to be admiring all of nature. She is in a much better mood since I attached a key to the house to her collar. Now she is able to go in and out at will, and that makes her a free person. Very good to hear from you.

  24. Glad tohrear things are improving, Shimon. Definitely lookslike

  25. Spring has arrived, and nature has a way of adjusting to change – hope Nechama gives you the benefit of the doubt!

    • Yes, Nechama is beginning to show signs that she forgives me. We are getting back to old habits and she has gone back to eating from my plate. And though there’s been a bit of rain since the last blog, we do have a lot of flowers in the fields now.

  26. So nice to enjoy a walk with you Shimon, see your landscape and listen to your observations and insights. As always, a true pleasure.

    • So good to hear from you, Chris. It is very good to see the flowers in all the fields. And I too am cheered by the final stage of moving to my own home. It looks like things are getting better.

  27. All the beauty of spring – such a sight for these sore eyes. Outside I see only snow and ice. I try to stay cheerful, but some days it’s difficult.

    Glad to hear that you are settling in. Best wishes.

    • I wish I could send you a patch of blue skies, yearstricken. Today though, the weather is nothing to brag about. The skies are gray, and there’s a lot of dust in the air. I opened the windows in the early morning, and now have closed them all, and am waiting for improvement. Spring will be here soon. Have courage, it’ll be beautiful in a little while.

  28. Being in the desert, it’s warming up here too and what a treat that is. My body and mind don’t care for the cold–even if we don’t get snow like many parts of the States. Nothing much grows here naturally so it’s nothing like the signs of spring in your lovely photos, but the warm air is enough for me (and soon we will be frying eggs on the cars).

    I really like that almond tree and don’t believe I’ve ever seen one. The photo of you and Nechama is priceless and I presume she’s like every other cat who gets very anxious and does odd things like grooming themselves bald for 6 months before forgetting about the big move. I’d say she still loves you to sleep on your lap and glad you will soon be home and you two can get back to normal with new surroundings…

    Lastly, I wish I could continue to live in the land of ignorance over smartphones now that you know my saga, but I fear ignorance never wins out in the end. I suppose a goat herder could live in blissful ignorance, but for all I know goat herders are the deepest thinkers of us all. 🙂

    Leah x

    • We certainly agree on that, Leah. I don’t care much for the cold either… and in fact, I love the desert. Though it gets quite cold there at night… at least here. So far, I’ve been lucky with Nechama… she’s never groomed herself bald or anything like that. But when she gets carried away emotionally, she likes to puncture me with her paw nails… and there have been times where she’s left me bloody (see: https://thehumanpicture.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/bloody-love/). Since this post, I’ve moved into my new home, and the two of us have reached an understanding. As for goat herders, I think they might be great thinkers. For sure, they have good hearts, and a love of life, from what I’ve seen. Thanks for the comment.

      • Thanks for sharing the post and I’m sorry about your friend, David. I think the only “person” I truly trust and care about that’s not online after all I’ve been through in life is my cat, as she’s very sweet and talkative and has never hurt or abandoned me (just a couple nail pokes here and there). I never knew much about cats before I found her and I haven’t met any like her since. One day, I woke up in bed and found I had my arms around her and she was just laying there purring and I thought, “Is this odd?” After what I’ve endured since getting sick, I’d rather not deal with the garbage other people bring into my life, so if I spend my last days with my cat, so be it. 🙂

        Btw, I think you may be right about the goat herders… There are lots of herders in general in the Torah from what I recall, but that’s your department as a much, much more observant Jew.

        • I know what you’re talking about, Leah… having had some very close relationships with cats myself. But don’t give up on human beings. There are some very beautiful ones out there…

  29. Spring and new beginnings. I will be happy to know that you and Nechama are together in your own home again. I hope it happens soon. The portrait of the two of you is heartwarming. You look well, but you are too thin, Shimon. You must eat more! Chuckle…

    I enjoyed the photographs of the spring flowers. Perhaps, they know something we don’t know. 😉

    • Yes, I think that one of our problems is that we tend to think we know it all. There is so much we don’t know… and I have little doubt that the flowers know things that are beyond us, George. I probably will eat more now that I’m in my own home again… with Nechama to remind me how important eating is. Always so very good to hear from you.

  30. Yeah, they don’t have calendar. But animals are very intelligent!

  31. I was here to read a part of an odyssey.
    A lovely photograph of you both, Nechama and You, Mr. Shimon.
    Wishing You all the best, in the new home and new environment…

    Blessings, and Shalom,

  32. Truly enjoying Reading your Blog! Nice work

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