As a child I was told: A rolling stone gathers no moss.
This has been a source (for me) of unending confusion.
Is mossiness good or bad? One should strive to be mossy. Or unmossy?
Which is better? What is the proverb telling us?
For years, I thought that mossiness was bad. That one should strive to be unmossy, devoid of moss, moss-free. If you keep active - if you enjoy an active lifestyle (as opposed to living like a piece of taxidermy, say, a moosehead) - then you will never be encumbered by moss. Moss in this view is like a fungus, an infestation. Please God, don 't allow me to become mossy.
Well, to my surprise, it turns out that that the proverb is supposed to be interpreted the opposite way. Mossiness is supposed to be good. Shouldn't one strive to be covered with a fine patination of moss? More mossy. Most mossy. You should strive to put down roots, to establish yourself in a place and then you, too, can become mossy. Moss is a coveted raiment. Please God, make me as mossy as possible.
Of course, some people learned the proverb and were taught what it is supposed to mean. I don't think I was. Maybe, I wasn't listening. Maybe, I read the proverb somewhere, but no interpretation was given. But it's not just my problem. Other people suffer from this same confusion. Or have to be dispossessed of this false notion. I know because I've asked a lot of people.
And, anyway, why would you think that mossiness was good without someone telling you that was the case? Maybe if you came from the Moss Planet, where moss is the source of all life, where everyone revered moss. I don't know.
And what if all language is like this - all words, phrases and sentences mean the opposite of what you think they do? Or, the situation is even worse. All words, phrases and sentences mean something other than what you think they do?