“The best vision is insight” (Malcolm S. Forbes).
THE WORD “SIGHT” APPEARS IN A NUMBER OF COMPOUND WORDS. Some have to do with our physical vision, like “eyesight.” Others speak of a more figurative vision, like “foresight” and “hindsight.” But Malcolm Forbes was correct when he said that the best vision is “insight.” To see inwardly — perceiving the true nature of people, situations, and ideas — is the most valuable “seeing” we can do. And it can be done even by those whose physical eyes cannot see.
Better insight does not come to us instantly or on command; it occurs gradually as we observe what is happening around us and — here’s the key — meditate on what we have observed. As we grow old, the richness of our experience, combined with deep reflection on that experience, begins to serve up what I call a “banquet of insights.”
Years ago, I came across this quotation about insight: “A thought may be very commendable as a thought, but I value it chiefly as a window through which I can obtain insight on the thinker” (Alexander Smith). Of all our insights, those which allow us to know other human beings are the ones we should treasure the most. Abstract ideas can be powerfully useful, but the best insights I have ever had are those that help me to understand actual people a little better.
Often we gain insight as a result of difficulties and distresses. We must be careful, of course, because suffering can easily distort our thinking and lead us away from the truth. But if we maintain both reverence and gratitude, pain can deepen our understanding of some very important principles. Those whose main goal is to avoid pain are cutting themselves off from one of life’s most profound sources of learning.
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a lifetime of experience.” I have found that to be true. Having accumulated nearly seven decades of experience in this world, it is not unusual these days for me to get a new insight and say, “Knowing that one truth is worth every mile of the journey that it took to get there.” I am learning, after all these years, to see not only with my eyes and my intellect but also with my heart. And I wouldn’t trade the insights that are now coming to me for any other “sightseeing” in the world.
“To be blind in the eye is better than to be blind in the heart” (Arabian Proverb).