Proverbial Thursday – Pearls of 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.


From Norway the proverb this week has some encouraging words for those who feel despondent about not measuring up to a task.

Even the best horse may stumble.

[Aldri så god hest at den ikkje kan snuble.]


and a rather cryptic quote from Confucius this week:

“The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.”

― Confucius

What do you suppose it means?

Do you have an opinion?

Post a comment below and join in the discussion.

Proverbial Thursday – Always Something to Ponder About

36 thoughts on “Proverbial Thursday – Pearls of Wisdom”

  1. I am so far behind that now I’m ahead. 🙂 The first proverb is self explanatory. No matter how good you are, you can falter. The second one is a bit more challenging. 😉 I’m coming up with looking for a problem when there is no problem. Imagining the worst before there is reason to be concerned. I’m probably really off base here but that’s what comes out of my head. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marlene! I waited to respond to your comment until I was back near a keyboard that was larger than half the size of my palm…..( ie. phone) as I wanted to write a lengthy comment to you. Being too confident about matters, I think, can cause problems, and I feel that the Norwegian proverb was warning about that, just as you intimated. If we feel that we know everything, perhaps we don’t know anything about the world at all? Just yesterday someone said that to me, reassuring me that it was okay to reflect and continue questioning and searching for better ways to do our job. I am probably stretching the meaning of the proverb here.
      I like your suggestion for the quote from Confucius! Problems may not always have a worst case scenario. Some of us can work ourselves up in to a lather of sweat through anxiety, about something that turns out to be not much of a worry. The black cat in the black room element is intriguing. In our search for whatever we are searching for, do we overlook something that is right under our nose? Do we fail to see it because the background gets in the way? I also wonder if Confucius was reminding us to utilize all our senses, and not be too reliant, as so many of us are, on our visual sense. The majority of us are visual learners, but we can all learn and benefit in different way if we open ourselves up to learning from others who use different senses to adapt, survive and solve problems in our world. ie: the black cat might easily be found if we listened in the black room, or felt with our hands. A visually impaired person might have extra sensitive hearing, which can be a great advantage in situations where darkness prevails.. (at night). What do you think?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I like your take on these. I can always learn something new about perception. It’s funny, as a visually impaired and somewhat hard of hearing person, I have more instinctively relied on my sixth sense. I can walk into a room and feel the energy of the room and the people in it. It’s how I gravitate to the people I follow here. I can’t really see you or hear you, but there is an inner knowing that helps me in a dark room. As a matter of fact, I cannot be in a totally dark space anymore. I can’t find up. Bells Palsy destroyed my gyroscope. There is always a tiny glimmer of light everywhere or I have to hold on to the walls. Perception. I like your take on this. Thanks

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi again Marlene and sorry to great that the Bells Palsy has caused orientation issues for you. But it is awesome that this other sense is getting stronger and giving you an awareness in a completely different way. The body is incredibly adaptable when it works as designed! Do you get migraines or dizziness with the condition seeing as it is affecting your vestibular system?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The brain is a very adaptable organ. I’ve been working for years on building new neuropathways to overcome the damage done by the Bells. I am fortunate that I don’t get migraines but balance is always an issue. I’ve adapted well but The paralysis is apparently permanent as are the after affects. It’s been almost 8 years and I’ve been grateful for tiny improvements. The doctors have never seen Bells affect anyone so intensely. Everyone gets some challenge in life. It could have been so much worse so I adjust and accept. My other senses are in many ways more valuable to me. 🙂 Have a great week.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. This is the new science area, Marlene. Neurodevelopment. Well done for working so hard on redressing the damage. A friend’s husband has just recently had an episode and is struggling a bit with it. I guess he is on the start of his journey to acceptance. I wish you a great week too. I am still recovering from illness so taking it pretty easy.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Taking it easy is the best way to recover quickly. More should understand that the body wants rest to heal. I am sorry your friends husband is struggling with this. Bells and shingles hits everyone differently. Depends on the level of stress one is experiencing at the time. Who knew?

                Liked by 1 person

              2. I think it is linked. Everyone I ever asked about what was going on with them when they got Shingles, ( same dormant virus) said they were under some kind of extreme stress at the time. Either physical or emotional.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. A good thought Chris. Sometimes it is merely entertainment, a fun activity, without deeper meaning. It is a reminder then, not to take life too seriously, perhaps? Enjoy a laugh and some silly fun every now and again? Is that what you got from Confucious this week, Chris?


        1. Thanks for the comment, Chris.
          I will have to remember this too. I think that having pets reminds us to be playful and that life is more than work and study. It if course is somewhat of a luxury to “play” as an adult. But it is so important to our mental health to indulge in some kind of recreation because we can. I think it gives poor analytical mind a rest. Do you think it has a place in the business world? Or does long lunches and networking give you this kind of respite?


          1. Being new to pet ownership after a lengthy break, I’m finding it rather to difficult to relate pets, and playful together in the same sentence at the moment. Puppy is proving to be more hard work than play – totally overwhelming. I’m sure he’ll grow up!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh Puppies! Puppies are lots of hard work. Piddles everywhere and the chewing on EVERYTHING! – Those things are not fun at all. That is why my last two dogs have been rescue dogs (older) and an ex breeding bitch. Not that many problems after the first few weeks. How old is he/she?


    1. Hi Peggy,
      Chris was suggesting that, in this saying, Confucious was all about having a bit of fun for entertainment and to not take things too seriously. Do you think he had another layer or was it simply as Chris suggested?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first quote reminds of a horse race. With these kinds of races and any race really (relay running, swimming race etc) you really do not know who will come out on tops until someone crosses the finishing line. Someone who has consistently trained hard may not necessarily come out on tops or even given the opportunity to participate – that is sometimes, the best may come last. Also I think you can look at the quote in a more positive way: the best may finish first, but not without a set of challenges to slow them down momentarily – but they will always pick themselves up and move on and cross the finish line.

    Another great quote by Confucius. This one I’ve never heard before. It seems asking to the saying finding a needle in a haystack, only that there is no needle. Maybe it speaks of being delusional, that sometimes we go after something just because we believe it can happen, but the odds are pretty much against us. Then again, there is no reason why no one can invent or create that black cat out of nothing – something can always be created out of nothing if we use our imagination and make the best out of what we’ve got around us.


    1. What a wonderful way of looking at the Norwegian proverb Mabel. It can apply to any one of us. We might be the best horse that doesn’t win or place in the top rankings, but still be the best for a multitude of other reasons that aren’t able to be tested through competition. We might be the best organizer, the best collaborator, the best leader, the best peacemaker, or humanitarian, the best at other skills that can’t be tested quantitatively, but nevertheless the best! And then, we have the best horse running first, or in the top rankings, seeking self-improvement or fulfillment of personal goals, always eager to reflect upon what they can learn from each performance (or race). I like to think of it as encouraging, reminding us not to give up when we have a setback in live. Everyone will have setback ( a stumble), but the race is long, and the stumble but a momentarily hiccup, that might offer an opportunity if we so are open to it.
      I am glad that you like the Confucian quote. He certainly wrote some sageful advice. I suspect that Confucius might have meant a variety of meanings, depending on each person’s individual circumstances as to what they might find in the quote. Kind of like you suggested – using the imagination to create a black cat. Each of us will see the quote for what it is, and that might be entirely different for each person. Having thought a lot more about this quote, and the comments, I doubt that it was referring to delusions, that doesn’t make as much sense as the other meanings put forward by yourself and the other commenters. And the fact that Confucius refers to this as being a very difficult thing to do makes me think more about going “after something just because we believe it can happen.”


      1. I think it’s always hard to be the best, because success, being the best and any ranking merit scale is subjective. Agree with you that the milestones we make can be encouraging to ourselves but also to those around us – for often they are a symbol of how far we’ve come, changed and learned.

        Going after something because we believe it to happen is always a risk. We risk to lose where we currently are but also have a lot to gain. I really like how we are interpreting these two quote. Perhaps we can put them in our book 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it is a great addition too or book too. How do we measure success? Well that is like asking, How long is a piece of string? It is really your own measurement that has any meaning that counts.
          Creating one’s own destiny or black cat), is possible to a certain extent. If we want something badly enough, we make choices that lead us down a certain path. If the end goal is too high or complicated, the horse may stumble, (to connect the first proverb). Realistic goals, or breaking the end goal down into piecemeal parts might be one way to create the illusive black cat even in a dark room. This quote might then pertain to perseverance, focus, and resilience a well as creativity and imagination.


          1. How long is a piece of string? I’ve heard that phrase quite a few times, and heard some people use that phrase to describe situations especially when they are rather unhappy.

            Any goal is realistic. As you mentioned, you can break down the end goal, and all of a sudden you will find a way.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I first heard, ‘how long is a piece of string?’ – when I was in year 8 at high school. My English teacher used to say it in response to the question – How long should the homework essay be!! I haven’t heard it in the context of being unhappy. That is new to me.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Coincidentally, my latest blog post (posted early this morning) contains the same Confucius quote.
    It must be true that great minds think alike (as if I would know — haha). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loved the post – and the comments – and one time someone called me a “sage” and I was flattered – and well, i did not fully know what they meant.
    and when I read your comments to people – for some reason the word “sage” comes to my mind for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now it is my turn to feel flattered Yvette. That is a very sweet thing to say. AlthoughI do not feel anything like a sage. I am simply not wise enough or anywhere near emotionally intelligent enough to be deemed a sage. However, I do think each of us might learn something from the eloquence of quotes and proverbs. They stand the test of time and have been refined over the years to become a distilled essence of “advice.” I am so happy you like them. Writing allows me the luxury of time to reflect on the meanings of the words.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Advice is a loaded word, as no one who is feeling stressed particularly wants advice from someone else as they often don’t fully understand the situation like the Person in that situation, themselves. However, I used the word advice because I feel proverbs are open to individual interpretation and easier to take just those words that have meaning for each person in themselves. Proverbs are objective advice. A colleague or friends advice is much more subjective. What do yo think, Yvette?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. well I think I fully agree with what you said…
            especially about the subjectivity – those filters can be biased – just normal, eh?
            and with the Person in the situation….
            the advice thing “depends”
            Like there could advice resistance – I see that a lot – but deep down they need it and sometimes take it indirectly – even if being resistant –
            and like Emily Dickens said “truth must come at you gradually otherwise every man blind” – something like that – but I always keep it in mind when I see resistance to tips or advice.
            Plus – sometimes resistance is what keeps us steady and stops us from wavering on every bit of doctrine that comes our way – ya know.
            but on the flip side – I have also seen MANY people “want” advice because they do not understand the situation. (Even tho the person is the one going thru it – their insight can be myopic) –
            but getting advice is not always easy (and some people pay big money for advice that should have been more available- and maybe in old tribe days the older were there to teach and give wisdom) – but I know when I was in my 20s I was disappointed I did not have more wise people to go to for tips on this and that – and then I later saw it helped me to be more resourceful – to hunt and find what I needed (and I see how God also led and fed) – and then one last thought is that i see people too dependent on others sometimes – they are used to paying for advice – they forget to think and problem solve

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You make many valid points, Yvette! I can see you are a deep thinker! The Emily Dickens quote is a wonderful description of realization and indirectly developing insights and awareness! So true in many situations. Also good in situations where hearing the truth hurts and only serves to instigate resistance and negativity. I will also try to remember that, if and when, I resist tips or advice, as well. But as you said resistance should not be completely eliminated. It does have its place as we all want to be in control of our own mind.
              To your final point about seeking wisdom, and not always being able to access or get it when young – I love how you managed to turn that into something positive: ie. Becoming more resourceful and self -reliant. I think many families living with disease or disability are often frustrated that there is not always someone who fully understands their situation or that there isnt any solution/advice offered. Or alternatively, many do -gooders who have loads of advice, none of which helps. (New mothers often deal with this kind of advice). Both these instances are ones where coming up with one’s own advice/ solving one’s own problems is really the only way forward. Especially in the absence of close ‘tribal elders.’ What a marvelous discussion, we have had, Yvette. This is exactly why I enjoy proverbs and quotes!! Thank so much!!!


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