From what I’ve been able to figure out, with only a little research…because I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on it…is that the expression probably started somewhere around the mid 1900’s.
Hindsight is 20 20 is a metaphor that doesn’t work as much anymore.
Because it implies that you can look back in time and see, more clearly, what you woulda coulda shoulda done. And it’s another way of saying “those who don’t learn from the past are destined to repeat it.”
The expression is based on something known as the Snellen chart. And if you’ve ever had an eye examination, you’ve seen the chart. Those rows of letters that get smaller and smaller. And the doctor asks you to cover one eye and read the smallest line you can see.
(side note: For some reason they have fewer lines than when I was younger, but anyway…)
So, when you can see the chart clearly, with both eyes, from a distance of 20 feet, your vision is 20/20.
But here’s a little plot twist.
Just because your vision might be categorized as 20/20 doesn’t mean it’s perfect vision. It just means you have clear, sharp vision when you look straight ahead. And your ophthalmologist (there’s a word you need glasses for) will still wanna test your peripheral and depth perception.
But it’s the looking ahead, compared to looking back, that I think is interesting.
Because you can get a prescription to see what’s in front of you more clearly. And that can help you avoid running into a door. Or help you drive safely. But there’s no prescription for looking back in time.
And even if there were a prescription, it wouldn’t help. Because you still couldn’t do anything about what happened five minutes ago. Let alone 20 years ago.
But you CAN learn from your past mistakes. And you CAN do better as you move forward. But it’s gonna require a prescription most people don’t want.
Yeah, wisdom. Not book smarts. Not street smarts. Pure, unadulterated wisdom.
And most people don’t wanna do that because they don’t wanna go where it is. They’d rather hide their heads in books. Or turn their ears to the streets. But the world doesn’t contain wisdom.
The world is full of “unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness.”
And that list manipulates people into being “whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.”
Have you noticed anybody that fits any of those descriptions?
If not, then I think it’s time for your eye exam.
And I’d like to recommend the best way to look back so you can see clearly as you move forward. And, of course, my recommendation is to read the bestselling book of all time. The Bible.
Or you can keep running into walls,
Sliding down slopes,
Falling off cliffs,
And reaching for ropes,
Never looking up
For your dreams and hopes.
Running into walls,
And sliding down slopes.
Get my Rhyme & Reason Podcast delivered (free) right to your device.
Grab yourself an un-cool T-shirt
Or how about some music for kids