Etymology's joke on us is that our very words that mean "grasp an idea of, mentally fit together parts of reality" — are themselves obscure or incomprehensible to us. [D.R.H.]
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.etymonline.com/columns/post/superstitious-understanding
In a literal physical sense, if you’re passing a heavy load to me and I haven’t properly under-stood it yet, I’m likely to drop it or stumble. It’s a reason you might ask me “Got it?” before you let go.
(Watch weightlifters in the clean and jerk as they literally struggle to understand.)
This bit has been quite sticky for me. I reflect on it surprisingly often.
I can’t decide which metaphor I like more. The idea of ‘standing under a heavy load’ feels a little more natural to me but I’m attracted to the grandness of the idea of ‘standing in the midst of something’.