Dare

Naïve and loving it: me with my stuffed dog “Rex,” somewhere around 1958

“Dare to be naïve.”  — Buckminster Fuller

We think of being naïve as something negative, and we generally don’t want others to see this trait in us. Aren’t the really cool people insiders, those in the know, those who are savvy and worldly-wise and experienced and cynical and acerbic? People no one would dare criticize because the comeback would be swift and stinging. People who are basically jerks, in other words. Hmm, maybe being naïve isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I’m a bit biased on this topic, because I am one who has often felt defensive about being ignorant of many harsh realities. If I hear a really smutty joke, chances are I won’t get it. Not too many years ago, I had to ask someone what “WTF” stood for, even though I’m far too coarse in my own use of words sometimes. Most other pop culture references sail right over my head, too. I was teased and called a “space cadet” in high school. Having married my first and only boyfriend, I never had a romantic heartbreak until he died recently. And you know what? I have no regrets about any of these forms of “ignorance.”

Most of us learn things we’d rather not know as we grow older. That doesn’t mean we have to let that knowledge taint our innocent way of seeing the world. Where did we get the idea that innocence is a bad thing? For the record, I’ve never fallen for an email scam or a fast sales pitch or a phony get-rich-quick scheme. But that doesn’t mean I’m not naïve. It’s just that I’m not typically interested in any of the things the hucksters are trying to sell.

If you tend to be someone who distrusts other people, I imagine life isn’t much fun for you. I’m not saying we should not take reasonable precautions for safety, nor even that we should believe everything our friends and acquaintances tell us. But I do find that I enjoy the day more if I assume, until proven otherwise, that most of the people I run into today are going to be fairly decent types. Not perfect, not even necessarily likable, but fellow humans who are doing the best they can with their own sets of limitations, just as I am.

I wonder…if most of us dared to be just a bit more naïve, would we be happier? Are some forms of ignorance truly blissful? Until we turn off the television, put down the gossip magazines and quit letting other people decide for us what is cool, we may never know. To be sure, being naïve can be risky. That’s why it takes daring.

50 Comments

  1. raynard

    Julia, all I’m going to say is ” Thank you for your honesty’. Yesterday I found a article written by a Christian women who was” treating her husband ” less than I’m going to say”. God convicted her. I emailed that to my wife. Her response was” I’m sorry forgive me”.. I couldn’t of said it better or” at all after” all these years’.. Morale of the story, the truth when told in love can be told in a truthful way”.. Be blessed

    • Raynard, I think it’s a great idea to share articles with each other. Jeff and I used to do that. Sometimes it helps to read about how other people have the same challenges we do, and find ways through it. How wonderful that Mary received it in such a positive and loving way. She is a special lady.

  2. Cherie

    I will take being Naive over Cynic every time! Love to you, sister!

    • Thank you, Cherie! ❤

  3. Chris

    Julia, I couldn’t agree more! Oh, and by the way, I think you’re “cool”. 😊

    • Thank you, Chris. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me I’m cool, so I especially appreciate the compliment. 😀

  4. I always assume that people are genuine, but in my life I have met one or two real rotters. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t realise sooner that they were bad people, but I too am naïve! Actually, I’m glad that I am – I always want to see the best in everybody and if I occasionally get caught out, it’s a price I think I’m willing to pay.

    • I agree completely! Sometimes it amazes me how long it takes me to realize someone isn’t behaving well (especially if that someone is me 😀 ) but just as you say, those exceptions are few enough that I want to assume the best of people until I am forced to see otherwise. In the long run it helps us more than anyone else, because facing life with a friendly and kind spirit is just a happier way to live.

    • Well said!

  5. Amy

    Oh, it’s safe to say I’m pretty naive. Sometimes it gets me trouble and I tend to get my feelings hurt but I like me. My husband likes me, so as your sweet friend said, “What is it to me what others think of me?” I just go happily, naively along. Love you.

    • I like you too! And love you too.

  6. Yes I think being naieve about some things is just fine!

    • I had a really fun conversation with an elderly Amish woman in a shop we visited in Pennsylvania. She and I were talking about NOT watching television. She was a very cheerful sort, so it was a pleasure just to speak with her. “Why do I need to know all of that?” she asked (referring to the television news). “I have enough to be worried about without it, so why add to the worries?” or something like that. I thought of her when I read today’s quote.

      • Well, that makes sense. Of course, absolutely nothing against the Amish, but living without modern conveniences would not leave any time for T.V. anyway, I don’t think! Even my mom when we were growing up only watched one “story” she called it, Days of Our Lives. She rarely watched t.v. but I remember hearing that song every day in the summer!

        • You know, I never watched soaps– and neither did my Mom, at least not when I was at home– but my grandmother and great-aunt did. And I seem to remember the beginning of that one: “Like sands through the hourglass…these are the days of our lives.” 🙂 Re: modern conveniences…I have often thought that they end up taking more time than they give us. Imagine our grandmothers who never had to deal with email, fax, voicemail, cell phones, cable service, car maintenance, etc…all these things are wonderful, but they certainly end up eating a lot of our time. In fact, if I did an audit of my time, probably the vast majority of my time is spent on activities and “work” that would have been unknown in my grandmothers’ childhood. As our options increase, so do our responsibilities. It’s normally a pretty good trade-off, but sometimes I think we have reached the saturation point with all of it.

          • I agree. Sometimes I wish I had been growing old in a different time. My grandparents had a lot of hard work to do but the stories of all the unique fun they had with my mom and her sisters always made me feel envious of their childhood! Ha, ha! I wish there were other women in my neighborhood I could just have coffee with and talk with like my mom was able to do in the first ten years of my life when we lived where her two best friends were. I used to just sit and listen to them talking and I remember how comforting it was. I always felt like I had three moms in those years! I admit I spend too much time pressuring myself about what to put on my blog or not writing enough or whatever while I end up vegging on t.v. most nights for at least two hours! It’s crazy the bad habits I have developed over the years! 😉

            • Patsy, I loved reading this comment and remembering similar times in my own home, with my mother visiting with friends and neighbors over coffee (and sometimes cigarettes…I guess nothing is perfect). As you say, it was a comforting backdrop for life. I had never thought of it that way, but “comforting” is exactly how it felt. And it is because I came to feel close to those women who spent time with my Mama, which yes, is kind of like having backup Moms. I guess today blogging is sort of a modern form of that, but I still wish we got together with neighbors more often. Maybe I should try to be the catalyst for that more often. My neighbors and I are always saying we’ll have tea together but we always see each other in passing and never seem to manage it. I guess we have to prioritize it to make it happen.

              • Julia, I know what you mean about neighbors saying they want to get together, but it never happens. I used to try and initiate stuff with neighbors who used to live here, but then they just didn’t reciprocate. I just got the feeling most people wanted to be left alone. Now, there are no other women living here at the hatchery anymore except one worker’s mom because she helps take care of his kids since his wife died last year. But she keeps to herself unless I go over there.

                • Patsy, I think all of society is growing more and more isolated. All of us spend so much time with devices (whether phones, TV, computers, or whatever) that we stay pretty isolated from each other. One thing I have loved about living in a town home neighborhood is that we see our neighbors much more often, especially those of us who don’t have garages. Even if it’s just a quick hello going to and from the car, it really does make a difference. In our other neighborhood where the homes are much farther apart, if I don’t go out walking, I hardly ever see most of my neighbors. When I’m working in the flower beds around the mailbox, I do see the ones who walk or ride bikes. So many of us have internal and external hindrances to making time for people. Externally we are busy and often overwhelmed with tasks to the point that we feel we can’t take the time to relax. Internally we may be shy, or self-conscious or– in some cases– misanthropes who really don’t like or trust people. These types would rather have “fake” human contact with TV people where all the sharing is in one direction only, and they can be switched off at will. I’m thankful that most people don’t seem to be like that. I think most of us really do want to be in touch with each other. But relationships take time and effort, and so many of us are tired and over-scheduled already. My brother was talking to me last night about the other residents in the long term care place where our Mama is now. He has made friends with many of them, and I asked him whether he was going to go back and see them occasionally even after Mama dies. He got choked up as he said “I would like to think I will. But that’s one of those things we tend to promise and not deliver on.” Your neighbor who is taking care of her grandchildren might feel like an outsider to the neighborhood, so she probably appreciates your visits even if she is uncomfortable reciprocating.

              • I thought I responded to this comment, but I’m not sure, Julia. Bear with me! My comment notification thingy wasn’t working for a while. Anyway, I thought of all those ladies in my first neighborhood as my moms also. They were all allowed to correct me and my brothers if they saw us doing something wrong but our mom hadn’t. I don’t have any women neighbors anymore that I can just visit with except one worker’s mom is living with him and his daughters now since his wife died in the house fire last year. I will probably visit with her more once school is done. My daughter is graduating in 3 weeks! 🙂

                • Congratulations on your daughter’s graduation, which will be this week? (I am WAY late getting to these comments.) I miss the days when all the neighbors knew each other well enough to be part of each other’s lives. I bet your neighbor’s mother would appreciate a visit. I’m sure life has been difficult for them. That must have been a horrible way to lose a spouse. A house fire would be traumatic even without loss of life, but with it, it would be devastating.

                  • Thanks, Julia. Yes, Grace graduates tomorrow night, May 19th! I can hardly believe it. I slept in today and am enjoying a couple of days of relaxation before tomorrow night. She had her last class at school yesterday. Yes, my neighbor’s mother would appreciate a visit. However, in the last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with finding out one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th. He left no will, and it is just one huge mess. So…that’s how my summer is starting!

                    • Oh, Patsy no! I am so sorry. Death is always difficult, but suicide has such devastating echoes. I lost a dear friend to suicide in 2005 and that has affected me deeply and permanently. I also am acquainted with the chaos that can happen when a death leaves unanswered questions or disputes about earthly possessions. I’ll pray that all this is resolved with the least additional trauma possible. What an awful thing to happen so close to your daughter’s celebration. Congratulations to her and to you- I hope all was wonderful at the ceremony! And I hope that your summer ends more peacefully and happily than may seem possible now.

                    • Yeah, it is an awful thing. My brother lived a pretty mentally tortured life I think since we were teenagers. He just never seemed happy. Fortunately, a lot of this is not falling on my shoulders now. He still had his ex-wife’s number and so his daughter was found and is the legal next of kin who is now handling everything. Grace had a good graduation night. Her best friend and brother were both there and we went out for pizza afterwards and to a used record/movie store so we all found stuff we liked. It was fun. Thanks for your kindness Julia. It means a lot to have someone praying for me right now. 🙂

                    • Patsy, so sorry about your brother. Yes, some people seem almost unable to be happy, except in brief transient spells. I am happy you are not being tasked with the logistical difficulties that can follow such tragedies. So wonderful that the graduation went well and you found some fun ways to celebrate. Love & prayers to you!

                    • Julia, thank you for your love and prayers. I appreciate them so much! Yes, it is unfortunate. Eddie was always unhappy for most of his life. However, this tragedy has brought his daughter back into my life. She went back to Kentucky with her mom when she was 3 when they divorced and I haven’t seen her since. She is 37 now! Crazy times! But she is going to be flying out here soon and taking care of all of his stuff. So we will most likely be meeting at some point. I am dreading the long drive down there though. She has jumped right in to take care of stuff. He has already been cremated which she paid for. Thanks again, Julia.

                    • Patsy, I will be thinking of you and sending up more prayers during this hectic time. I hope your reunion with your niece is a bright spot in the sorrow. Safe travels!

                    • Thanks so much, Julia! I really appreciate your prayers. It doesn’t feel as hectic anymore since I am not getting a million phone calls anymore. Unfortunately, my niece is now, though, so she could use lots of prayers also. I have no idea when I will be going to meet her; it could be a couple of more weeks perhaps. Thanks for the good wishes, Julia! 🙂

                    • Prayers will continue, and I’ll add your niece. ❤

                    • Thanks so much, Julia!

  7. MaryAnn Clontz

    Gorgeous baby girl!
    Great quote, Julia! Once again, we share another part of how we see the world! I have always been called “naive”: get very few jokes. As I got older, my response to the inevitable
    teasing is: “Thank you for noticing!” My Pollyanna idea is if I am nice, the other person will be nice. So I, like you, approach each situation with great hope. Of course I know that people can be mean, thoughtless, & ungrateful; but I still look for the good, The glass IS 1/2 full, you are aware. (smile) I love these writings when you pour yourself out for us.
    As I continue to research the “lists” in the Bible, last week an old favorite came to me:
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 NIV
    It has been a stalwart over the years for me.
    Much love & prayers!

    • Mary Ann, thank you for the reminder of that verse. I have reminded myself of it many times over the years, with varying degrees of inner acceptance of its truth. I do know that the more I accept it, the better I seem to feel. Or as Jesus says, which of us, by worrying, can add one minute to our lives? (paraphrase). Recently I read a variation on the half-full glass thing. It said something like, “The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The grateful person is happy there is a glass.” 😀

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        Perfect! We are THE grateful, honoring God for His myriad blessings!

  8. Sheila

    What a precious, happy little girl you were, Julia. That is such a sweet moment to share. I grew up in such simpler times. The lifestyle of the 50’s and 60’s seems rather sheltered by today’s standards. Today has little simplicity, technology has seen to that! You may enjoy my Willow Tree story from years ago. As camping goes, you meet different people from other areas and enjoy relaxing together. We had a weekend group that enjoyed each other’s company for several years. The bike rides, swimming, the cookouts, camp fires, small talk, and “beer talk” were all so much fun. We were known as “WTF…..Willow Tree’s Finest”! 😳 That’s probably the name we gave ourselves. 🏕⛺️ These are such trending times we live in today. I’m not in the fast lane, just to be on the curb suits me fine! 💛 Thinking of you always, Sheila

    • Sheila, I love knowing that about your Willow Tree group! I almost feel as if I know them by now anyway. I smiled when I saw the lovely Willow Tree figurine you sent me and made that connection for the first time (between the figurine series and your group, both of which have the same name). I guess one reason I love walking so much is that there is no “fast lane” for walking!

  9. Harry Sims

    You favor yourself.

    Harry

    • Harry Sims

      PS one of your great shares.

      • Thank you, Harry. 🙂

    • Thank you! I hope I still have at least a tiny bit of that little girl in me.

  10. Could you be any cuter? A-dorable. I love that you named your stuffy too 😀 Naivete to me sometimes just means doing things in a simpler way. Maybe it’s pulling out the Scrabble board or a game of Yatzee instead of being on the computer or even writing and posting a card instead of sending email. It’s harder these days to be naive with so much information coming in every direction. I think I have a very welcoming heart and make friends easily but as you say, we still have to be smart xo tee-hee, can’t help adding, “see you soon” xoxo

    • K, the only reason I remember the name of that stuffed dog is that I had it for many years. I’m sure if it had a name at the time the photo was taken, I would not have been old enough to remember it. “Rex” was the name of the first and only dog I remember our having in my childhood. He was a German Shepherd mix and we loved him dearly. So the stuffed dog was named for him. I like your idea of connecting simplicity with naivete. I always loved board games! You are right about it being harder and harder to remain naive these days; perhaps that’s one reason it seems to be more valuable than ever to me. You definitely have a welcoming heart and I am so excited to see you soon!

  11. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕ I’m still laughing about finding my surprise yesterday in my pantry. My Christmas present from you, the green tea box with the InkJoy pens inside, was enjoyed more than you can imagine. I sent an email with a photo and more ‘splaining about how that happened. Love the “pens not green tea”! 😳😂🎁💛 Have a beautiful day! Love and hugs, Sheila

    • Sheila, I loved getting that email! I have it on a lengthening list of emails and cards (including the lovely email you sent me the night of March 10, following Jeff’s burial, which was tremendously comforting) to which I wanted to take time to reply at length…which, alas! sometimes means I never do it at all. A great example of the perfect being the enemy of the good (not that longer correspondence from me is perfect or even better than shorter, hee-hee) but in the meantime, I’m glad the gift provided an unintentional humor benefit. I am famous (or should I say infamous) at re-purposing boxes for gifts, since I like to have all sizes and shapes of gifts under my tree. I used to turn them inside out to prevent just such errors, but in this case I was in a hurry and thought that my big “NOT!” note would tip you off…oh well, all’s well that ends well, and ending with a laugh is always ending well. On another humorous note…one Christmas when Jeff and I gave Megan an Amazon Fire Tablet, when she first opened it up she said “Is this really what’s in here…can I get excited?” 😀 So that tells you that you are not the first to get a box that doesn’t fit what’s inside! BTW I’ll have to send you some Ahmad tea to make up for the LACK of any in that box. 😀

  12. Great post, Julia! Needs to be said.
    Though Jesus sent out his adult apostles to spread His word, with the warning to be as gentle as doves and as cunning as serpents, He too reminds them and us all that to enter heaven we must be as innocent as children; or naïve, if you will.
    -Alan

  13. Thank you, Julia! I needed this, to gear up to go to work today. Whew! I’m taking a deep breath, and instead of preparing my psyche for the worst, I’ll let that go, and expect the best.
    Yay! 😀
    It’s not a decision to be ignorant, although it may sound that way. I have been pleasantly surprised by my team in the past ….

    • Susan, it has taken me far too long to get around to these comments (and this will probably be the last one I get to this late night) but I hope your work day did not disappoint you. And if it did, I hope the disappointment was soon made easier by other pleasant surprises.

  14. jholley1954

    I agree – great post! A lady I work with is 3 years widowed and has recently started to date. Her suitor recently told her that she is naïve. When she asked me what I thought, I told her this . . . . “Marilyn, you are not street smart, but you are world smart.” . . . . She and I both agreed that is a good thing to be!!!!

    • Judy, I love that! World smart is indeed different from street smart, and preferable by far. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for being here with us.

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