The first lesson

A proverb is a “simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity.” Proverbs are handed down generation to generation. The study of proverbs is called paremiology.

Otis Elevator’s friend recently sent me the featured image and the following proverb to accompany it:

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.

Some attribute the saying to Shakespeare, but I could not confirm it. It looks like it is a Jewish proverb. Shakespeare’s plays have so many truths based on the practical experience of humanity, I am not surprised at the confusion. Shakespeare would have made a great therapist. Many proverbs are biblical and also cultural. I may have to take up a project to find proverbs relating to the parent-child relationship.

Passing on truths based on the practical experience of humanity is something that perhaps our modern dispersed way of living in separate one family units makes challenging. Instead of portals for proverbs conveniently placed along our daily path, we have therapists, social workers, churches. Proverbs strategically deployed throughout the day seems more effective. Perhaps there was an instruction manual for parenting after all under all our layers of modernity. And, maybe it looks nothing like I thought it might. This is lesson #1.


I write abecedarian sequences

2 replies on “The first lesson”

Interesting post. I’ve never thought too much about the origin of proverbs, or their therapeutic value. Having said that, I’ve always found them thought-provoking, so perhaps I’m contradicting myself! You make a good point about the means by which proverbs were passed on, too.

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Thank you, Millie! I hadn’t thought of it either until that day! That’s something I love about having a writing practice – I try on different angles on things! Sometimes they don’t work out. Sometimes they do. Thank you for reading!

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