Proverbial Thursday – Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you think so too.

High country Sheep in Golfjellet, Norway

Never mind if your nose is ugly as long

as you can breathe through it –   

Zaire Proverb

Success has always been a great liar-

Friedrich Nietzsche

head on a plate

What do you make of the quote and proverb for this week? What is the proverb from Zaire trying to say. Is it encouraging or disparaging?

And why is success a liar?

I invite you to leave a comment and join in the discussion.

Proverbial Thursday – Best savoured a little a time. Something to Ponder About


16 thoughts on “Proverbial Thursday – Global Wisdom”

  1. Well we also say don’t cut off your nose to spite the face. Just because the nose is ugly does not mean its not important. Sometimes we overvalue beauty over utility! And we shouldn’t!
    Perhaps being successful is often a lie – in the sense we project it as an image (note this). A picture of quintessential success but is it real?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed, we do say that. Athough I feel that this proverb refers more to your latter interpretation rather than the self-destructive revengeful interpretation. Function is more useful to us than beauty. Beauty does provide advantage in society, and it warns us not to place too much value on that. After all, what good is a beautiful drinking vessel if it is impossible to drink out of it. It then simply becomes an ornament.
      The quote leaves me with a more ambivalent feeling. We need to differentiate between success and ego. Projecting a slightly false image is not helpful. Better to seek the unfettered truth. Yet, wishful thinking does help in maintaining positivity.
      Those with a weak ego could fabricate a lie and become to believe it themselves, if they maintain it for long enough. But then who is the measure of success? What measures success today might measure failure tomorrow. Thanks for your comment, Mel & Suan. Food for thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very often, beauty remains a hidden criteria that no one talks about!
        And success, we see that in society every day. People who seeemingly have wonderful lives belie the problems at home!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is often true, Mel &Suan. I have in my life identified various people whom I admired for many different reasons. One was the perfect ‘Mum’ – someone who helped me with advice and support during my children’s infancy. I thought she was faultless and had the behaviour management of kids, the nurturing and the household under control and running like a well oiled machine and continued to smile and exude contentment. However, some years later I discovered things weren’t as perfect as they seemed. Nothing really dramatic, but it showed me that no one is as perfect as might be outwardly projected . Public Success doesn’t necessarily mean one’s private life is as rosy. I think it is a useful concept for adolescents obsessed with image, to remember. Aspiring to be ‘cool’ might mean getting more than one bargains for!!!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Some of us take longer to achieve that sense than others. Otherwise, our self esteem decreases and often can measure ourselves in poorer terms than others.


  2. There’s no great mystery about the principal inferred in the Zaire proverb. It speaks to the adage of “not judging a book by its cover,” or perhaps that quality of life is more important than quantity, as in the extent of one’s wealth or the number of possessions we have is irrelevant in the grander scheme of things.

    As for success, it can be fickle. For every top there is a bottom, and for every light there is darkness. Someone may be successful at something – a job, a talent – but it may imbue that person with a false sense of self-worth or adulation by the masses. Politicians, sports figures and entertainment celebrities often fall victim to this quirk of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree with your interpretation of the proverb, Alejandro. It is all too easy to focus on the superficial parts of ourselves, objects or life, rather than the more critical, important and sometimes intangible parts. One might have a nice house, high profile job, or be an acclaimed celebrity, but this can fade as quickly as a tree loses its blossoms. Then what is left…. nothing – except disappointment and regret – in short, a lie. Other things such as the joy of making others happy, helping those who are in less fortunate circumstances, the giving of time to a child, these are things that endure and have flow on immeasurable effects, don’t you think?
      And I feel this ties in with the quote and your timely remark re politicians, Alejandro! That fleeting sense of achievement that comes from external objects. The destination is not as important as the journey to my mind. Success is not about empowering oneself at the expense of others.


  3. They are both great quotes. The first is quite obvious. The nose is rarely a thing of beauty but it’s work is essential. Not only for breath but for smell. We rarely appreciate it’s fine and important work. The second, well, one needs just look at our new president to understand that one. So sad.


    1. Well said, Marlene. If only people looked beneath to the inner metaphorical beauty. All too often the media world is overly concerned with superficiality and overlooks one who performs good and fine work, such as a ‘nose’. Without a nose, not only can we not smell but we can not taste either. Noses also warm the air we breathe. They serve us very well.
      As for the analogy of the quote – regrettably that seems to be true.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Never heard the first proverb before. It could be referring to how looks don’t matter, but character is what speaks the loudest works. That is, how we behave and our choices determines how far we go. Or, we should be greatful to have what we have because that is what got us to where we are today. The saying reminds me of Pinocchio who had a long nose and each time he told a lie, his nose would grow long. If we take the metaphorical meaning of the nose as it is, then I think this proverb might mean very different.

    Again, Nietzsche has said something great. Sometimes sucess isn’t all that cracked up it’s to be. Sometimes when we reach that point of success we’ve been hoping for for so long, we might feel underwhelmed. For a long time I thought that being a famous writer would bring me happiness. These days I’m not after a million books sold or becoming an author everyone around the world knows. When you reach a certain point in life, sometimes it can be hard to keep up that pace – success can show us the beauty of working hard, but it might not be able to show us to appreciate what we’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neither had I read the Zaire proverb before and that is why I was drawn to it. It is different and yet it is also intriguing. Does it mean a nose in a literal or a metaphorical sense? I haven’t actually met anyone who I thought had an ‘ugly’ nose, so I chose to think of it in a metaphorical sense. How we function, what we do is what makes or breaks us in this world. Beauty is only skin deep but it does give numerous advantages or opportunities in life. Yet it is what we actually do in life that counts. Beauty might attract interest but the person themselves has to follow through with action! An ugly or beautiful nose is only skin deep. Character, empathy and the heart of a person is so much more important. And this leads me to Nietzsche. I so like that you can see the inner meaning of his words. Not everyone values his words, and they do at times, grate on us! Success can often be filled with lies, and liars. How often do we discover that successful businessman turn out to be corrupt, fraudulent, or dishonest? A failed businessman once told me that it was impossible to be a nice guy in business. How sad that we feel we should emulate businessmen that succeed when their success might be based on lies.
      It is wonderful that you have such insight into your life, goals and aspirations that you have an awareness that the destination is less important than the journey to get there. You are not mesmerized by success; your feet are well and truly on the ground. This is how we learn to appreciate and value what you have. Inner contentment has no value but is priceless.


      1. It is interesting to hear about what that failed businessman told me. Perhaps the didn’t get to where we hoped because of the field he was in – a competitive field. Or it could be the goals needed more hard work, so much more. Or it could be as he told you – he was a nice guy in the wrong place.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The Zaire proverb sounds straightforward, though first-time readings often fail to see hidden meanings. It says that it doesn’t matter what something looks like as long as it works. Perhaps its also a warning as long as against vanity, or advice regarding being satisfied with what we have – as long as it serves its purpose. Perhaps the actual example about breathing could also suggest that life is precious and we should live it to the full, whatever we look like. (That’s probably a little off track, though).
    The Friedrich Nietzsche quote suggests that a person’s, (or company’s or whatever’s) success is the only side of things that others see. Often, success comes at a price, and people can suffer personal or financial hardship to reach the state of being seen as successful. There may be relationships, friendships or even material assets lost along the path to success. A person’s reputation can also change as he rises to success and being obsessed with reaching the goal (of being successful) can seriously affect a person’s personality and the way he/she treats others. Becoming self-absorbed and self-centred is not a trait that other people like. Then, there are people who achieve success who are left feeling lost or useless because they don’t have to work so hard anymore – or having lost so many former friends their success means little to them. So, all in all, I agree with the quote. Success can be seen as a great liar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Millie! So nice to hear from you. I have missed your wonderful and erudite comments! I think you adequately summed up the connection between functionality and desirability. Good point about breathing being important. That is an aspect of the proverb which could have contributed to the use of the nose as the body part of choice!!
      Furthermore, I do like that you drew attention to the issue of the successful person feeling lost once they have attained a level they aspired to. This really does happen – and even more so, men seemed to be more affected. particularly it seems, when they retire. There is a period of adjustment for them in which they have to find a new way to function. Women might relish not having to work hard anymore, or alternatively seem to find new goals all the time, in life. Men, perhaps become more fixated on the one goal and then when they have reached or achieved this, suddenly are bereft of a main purpose. They have to root around to find another dream or driving force. I guess there is a warning there not to become overly obsessed with the one topic, lest that happen.
      There are so many applications of this simple Nietzsche quote!


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