I Don’t Know

As any of you who have read much of what I’ve written here may have figured out, I tend to be a teeny, tiny, eensy-weensy bit obsessive about truth and looking at things from multiple different angles.

One of the hardest things, for me, personally, has been accepting that I don’t actually NEED to have all the answers.  I’d love to have all the answers.  I’d love to always understand things in depth.  I’d love to be able to fully and completely understand all the nuances of life and, in particular, the human mind.  The simple reality is that knowledge is power and that the better I understand things, the more accurately I can predict things and ensure that I’m making good choices.

But, that infallible knowledge and understanding that I would so dearly love to have, regardless of how much more effective it would make me at helping people and solving problems, is utterly impossible to actually achieve.

For my own sanity and peace of mind, the idea that I don’t NEED to know however much I may WANT to know, is essential.  I don’t have to be infallible to make good decisions.  I don’t have to have a perfect understanding of all things psychological in order to talk people through their issues.  I don’t have to be an expert in every area of human knowledge in order to be a good parent and teach my son what he needs to know as an adult.

At some point, even as beautiful and useful as learning new things is, the desire to learn becomes self-indulgent.

Of course, the truth remains, that there have been people with IQ’s over 200.  There are people alive today compared to whom I am an idiot.  And, that’s not even counting the hypothetical possibility of hyper-intelligent aliens or the inevitable hyper-intelligent AIs that humanity is bound to create.  From a certain perspective, we’re all idiots.

And yet, despite that, humanity is still here, aren’t we?  Despite the staggering number of things in this universe that scientists haven’t discovered or don’t understand yet, despite the likelihood that there are entire branches of science that we haven’t begun to explore, that we don’t even realize that there is anything to explore yet as we don’t have enough experience to even start to ask the right questions to begin exploring.  And yet, humanity is here.

Despite all the various problems caused by people making mistakes based on ignorance, our species has survived.  And, even you want to dig in a little further, there are countless organisms on the planet earth that literally have no brain; and yet, they’ve survived, in some form or another, for millions of years.

An oak tree does just fine for itself without being a super-genius…

Intelligence is useful; but, it certainly isn’t everything.  It’s important; but, it’s far from the only important thing and, depending on context, may not be particularly important at all.

Honestly, if stupidity was as awful as it sometimes seems, there’d be much more evolutionary pressure to create genius than there is.  From a human perspective, a goldfish is pretty dumb; but, they get along fine.

And, yes, there are absolutely plenty of contexts where genius matters; that doesn’t go away by becoming less obsessive.  That doesn’t go away from learning to chill out a little bit.  “It’s OK that I don’t know everything” is not remotely the same as “Why bother learning anything?”  They are worlds apart.  And, when it comes to obsession, isn’t the fear of “Why bother learning anything” one of the biggest obstacles to accepting “It’s OK”?  And yet, when looked at closely, that fear is groundless.  Learning is still good.  It’s fun, it’s exciting to discover new things.  It’s beautiful being able to expand my mind and integrate new skills and perspectives.  It’s beautiful.  It’s wonderful.  But, it’s also OK that my intelligence is finite.

If I understood everything, I couldn’t enjoy learning new things.  And, I do enjoy that.  The dream of perfection, if it were somehow possible, would rob me of that joy.

Balance.  Harmony.  Peace.

There’s more joy and wonder without the burden of obsession.

And, of course, it’s still fun to tear concepts apart and analyze them in more depth than most people tend to see much value in.  I actually enjoy what most people would refer to as over-analyzing things.  In fact, I enjoy it MORE now that the fear is gone.  I’m much more relaxed in my meditation and contemplation and the ideas flow more easily without my mind darting about as much driven by fear.

From a certain perspective, I’m an idiot.  And, it’s OK.

It’s all good.