One thing you can count on is that you never know. As we approach the end of the year, it dawns on me that I know even less than when the year started. This turns on its head the adage that one grows “older and wiser” with time. Rather, as my eyes fade and my hair whitens, I seem to know less. This reminds me of the Peter Gabriel song Only Us, and the line “the further on I go, oh the less I know.”
Incomprehensible today are not only wars, fires, addiction, human migration, and the climate crisis but things so seemingly ordinary—the rise and fall of breath, the song of the meadow lark, the dream of my long deceased grandfather. Like the breath in our lungs and the blood in our veins, not knowing is the currency we share. Unless you are a good Calvinist and deem that God is calling the shots from on high, you wake up each morning to an uncertain world. In the face of indeterminacy, how we fare depends on our capacity to be with not-knowing, to live with not-knowing to celebrate not-knowing. The 14th Dalai Lama once said, “Until the last moment, anything is possible.” Whether it is cooking a meal, planning to save the coral reefs, designing a peace treaty, driving to the hoop as a basketball player, or having a conversation with a friend, we actualize not-knowing in every single thing we do.
We are near-sighted, duped, and misguided if we believe that things are set in stone. Nothing is fixed. Nothing impossible. Can we see this wild,
unpredictable life not as closure and constraint, but as an invitation to live creatively in a universe of possibility? Can we be fearless stay fully engaged in the midst of uncertainty? Not-knowing allows us to be in the moment rather than living from a preconceived notion of how things should be. Not-knowing give us a unique opportunity to think out of the box, to discover new choices, beyond routine choices, and to realize new ways of being that we never before could have imagined.