Մինչեվ խոհեմ մարդը մտածում է, խենթը գետի ափին է և հեռու:
Minchev khoem marduh mdatsumeh, khentuh geti apineh yev herru.
Until the smart man thinks, the fool on shore he is and far.
“While the prudent man is considering, the fool is across the river and away”
(Some parts of this conversation took place in Armenian and have been translated to English.)
Informant: There is a saying, I don’t know if you know it, it goes “Մինչեվ խոհեմ մարդը մտածում է, խենթը գետի ափին է և հեռու” [“While the prudent man is considering, the fool is across the river and away”]. My grandpa used to say this to my dad.
Me: And what does this mean to you?
Informant: Well, in Armenia we say this because we see the differences between the smart man and the fool. The fool is not afraid of crossing the river because he doesn’t understand what is in it. He is pretty much living in his own world, and what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. You know how they say in English “ignorance is bliss?”
Me: Yeah I’ve heard that a lot.
Informant: Yeah. So this is kind of saying that. The smart man will spend his life contemplating what is the right thing to do, but the fool won’t because he basically doesn’t even know that there is anything to contemplate.
Me: Yeah I understand, so the moral of this proverb is to take action.
Informant: Yeah, but also don’t be the fool. Think about what you’re doing, but don’t spend your life thinking about it. Take action. In a way, it’s telling you to be just a little bit like the fool. Because, in the end, who is enjoying their life more? Who is living their life to the fullest?
Together: The fool.
Informant: Exactly yeah.
This proverb is told to teach people not to overthink. My informant heard her grandfather tell her dad this proverb in a casual setting.
I had not heard of this proverb before, but it has a message very much like “carpe diem.” While it does criticize the fool for not being careful, it also admires the fool’s confidence and initiative, and almost urges the audience to be more like the fool. The wise man will spend his whole life thinking about what he should do to get the best results in his life, and by the time he arrives at a conclusion, his life has passed him by. The fool is already “across the river and away,” and he lived his life without the stress of constant deliberation and overthinking.