No, they don’t talk to me. They’re lying down. All of them.
When I was little, I learned that when cows lie down, it means it’s going to rain. I recently told this to a friend, who found the idea questionable and maybe even absurd. I thought it was common knowledge. Turns out, it’s not so common and maybe not even knowledge. Or is it?
When I was 10 years old, my mom, sister, and I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico for a month. We stayed with a family and went to school to learn Spanish. About a week after arriving, my sister and I asked the family about our favorite Mexican food—tacos. They didn’t know what we were talking about. We ended up making them a taco dinner, after searching through a number of grocery stores before finding hard taco shells. Turns out, hard taco shells weren’t a ubiquitous Mexican tradition.
That brings me to whoopie pies.
Yes, whoopie pies. Everyone knows what those are—right? Here’s how I describe them. Think of a basic fast food burger. A whoopie pie is a similar shape. Instead of buns, there’s cake. Instead of a burger, there’s a cream filling. Better yet, here’s a picture.
It was only in college when I realized not everyone knew about the delectable treat. I thought whoopie pies were common knowledge. Turns out, most people don’t know anything about them and think I’m talking about a whoopie cushion until I explain.
We grow up thinking the things in our lives—the things we experience, the things we see, the things we “know”—are common knowledge. And oftentimes, as a result, we make assumptions. Some—like those related to whoopie pies—are harmless. Other assumptions might not be.
We don’t always know what we don’t know, but that just means we need to be open. We are constantly learning, whether we realize it or not. And sometimes whether we want to or not.
Now more than ever, we need more openness and understanding in our lives and the world. One way is to think beyond the things we consider to be common knowledge. Instead of making assumptions, we need to ask questions. Listen. Observe. Read. Travel. Look for opportunities to experience and learn new things.
So here’s a start. Scientists found a connection between cows’ behavior and weather. “[Researchers] discovered that cows stand up for longer periods when it is hot…By exposing more of their surface area, it allows their body heat to disperse in the air. When cows get too hot they pant more, eat less and so produce less milk. …They also suggest that cows lie down when it is colder, which is often what happens to the weather just before it rains.”
There’s some not-so-common knowledge. Today, it’s cows; tomorrow, the world.