It’s another family gathering, or perhaps another Saturday breakfast after which there are no plans, no agenda, so your Father or an older relative decides to retell a story from the past. You are sitting there, initially unaware of the fact that it’s a story that has been told before, but once you hear about him breaking the glass door, you think, whilst rolling your eyes in annoyance, “oh yeah, I’ve heard this one before.” It’s a wonder why the old man wants to tell this story again, or maybe he’s simply forgotten. Maybe he can’t come up with anything new or more interesting, so you brace yourself for the long ride through a history you know. Or, at least, you think you know it.
There’s another reaction one can have to a story they’ve heard before: “Oh, I know this story well,” yet it is said with a smile of sweet reminiscence. It is the kind of “know” that one is proud of, that one cherishes. There is a difference between these two types of knowledge. One type is that of mere informational knowledge wherein a person doesn’t want repetition, because repetition means redundancy. The other knowledge, however, is one of experience. Though indirectly, the one who received this information has entered into the experience, learned from it, lived through it. He had the attitude of wanting to know it well, and learning every detail. Therefore, when he says, smilingly, “Oh, I know this story well,” he has heard it many times, yet because of his attitude it has not only been imprinted in the mind, but cherished.
When one has the wrong attitude and a story becomes something annoying, this person is saying the story is unimportant, and they can’t actually reap benefit from it. So from the very onset, once the repetition is recognized, the ability for this person to learn from the story is compromised. They may as well shut their ears or walk away. Yet the one who accepts that even though they’ve heard the story before, they want to enter into it and learn it better than they already do, this person will gain from the story. It will become that very story that can be related to another. It can be that which they themselves accept as their experience; and when knowledge is met with experience, it becomes wisdom. Listen to that story one more time. Hear it, and say with a contented smile, “I know this story well.”