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I Don't Know!
by Jo McDivitt

Do you say "I don't know" without hesitating when asked a question you do not know? I hope the team assembled by the new administration and other political leaders will have the courage to say, "I don't know but I will find out" during the challenges our country is facing. Surrounding yourself with others who are trained to help you find answers and solutions when you do not know the answers is positive, not negative. Learning is the spice of life!

Wouldn't Martha Stewart be more appealing, if just once, on camera, she dropped an egg on her shoe, laughed over the mishap, and went on with the show? Every once in awhile, Martha could say, "I don't know but on our next show I will have an answer." How do you make chowchow, Martha? I don't know! She could ask viewers to let her know. They would adore her candor.

Suze Orman, television's financial guru, always has an answer in a split second for on-the-air caller questions. Are the questions previewed before the show airs? Is there a voice hookup wired to her ear prompting her as she rattles off information with machine-gun rapidity? It would be so refreshing if a caller asked Suze a question and she answered, "Well, I do not know the answer, but I will find out." Suze, how much money do I need to purchase a first-edition book about the explorer Sir Richard Burton? I don't know, but I will check. Great going, Suze - you are not a know-it-all after all. I can tell you people do not know how to spell her first name - it is spelled S-u-z-e.

There is a pervasive need to know everything about everything sweeping through the country. How dull!

Once in another chapter of my life, I had an opportunity to work with Larry Siroli and Robert Ruggerio from the well-known Sotheby's auction house to catalogue and sell items from an estate in Memphis. The two very worldly but unpretentious men had seen the finest collectibles in the world. There they were happily eating oversized Memphis barbecue sandwiches (served on English china) in my kitchen. One of the gents said, "Jo, I do not know if the eight-inch bronze sculpture is Charles Remington's lost smoke priest. We will have others look at it to find out." The other said, "Do you have any more barbecue?"

There you have it. Men who had touched and seen priceless treasures from Palm Beach to Paris were willing and able to refer to other specialists. I liked them even more for not knowing all of the provenances and authenticity of every piece in the vast collection.

Another lesson for me in the "I don't know" department was acquired from my daddy who passed it down from his father: "Jo, everyone you will ever meet knows something you do not know. Keep in mind that you can learn from everyone you meet." This pearl of wisdom has held me in good stead. Whenever I forget this wisdom, I always get my comeuppance.

One of many comeuppances: Walking in the woods of Mississippi with an old friend who has never, ever left the Magnolia State, we identified trees as we strolled. He knew so many tree origins, I was spellbound. This person had no formal education, yet he could identify and tell me which tree would make a wonderful violin. I loved learning all about tree lore.

When I told an old friend who teaches about this piece, he replied, "I like the title, I Don't Know. As you do know, that is one way I gauge folks. Saying I don't know reveals a sense of humility and honesty not seen in lots of people these days."

Instead of being uncomfortable when something comes up that is unknown, why not say, "I'd love to learn more about what you are talking about." Or,"What an interesting topic – it would be wonderful to hear more."

A fresh, new approach to my 'life begins at sixty era' is remembering Daddy's wise axiom, a gift he gave me in my misspent youth. I will say "I don't know" when I really do not know and expectantly enjoy learning more each day.

Everyone we meet is carrying a gift of knowledge to share if we are willing and able to listen and learn.

Why do people have to have an answer for every question? I don't know!



[left] The ravishing Jo McDivitt!

McDivitt returned to Mississippi several years ago with the idea of publishing a small newspaper with good news features on the wise, witty, wonderful women in the state of Mississippi. She did that.

McDivitt’s dream has quickly become a reality. The publication is distributed in over 100 locations in more than 20 cities across the state with a home base in Hattiesburg.

Articles in Today’s Mississippi Woman run the gamut – something for everyone. The issues contain stories on people, fashions, sports, recipes, politics, music, travel, as well as decorating and much more.


E-mail Jo: CLICK HERE!

To subscribe to Today's Mississippi Woman, send $36 (for 12 issues) to
TMW / P. O. Box 15343 / Hattiesburg, MS 39404.

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