I believe in uncertainty – in not knowing “for sure” – and in not needing to know.
This view has been a long time in coming. I am nothing if not an infinitely rational. My idea of a good game is chess. Math is my favorite subject. The idea that our emotions are actually a series of chemical reactions in our brains is very appealing to me. I like to know. I like the feeling of being “in the know” and I’ve gained some satisfaction from letting other people know that I know.
For years, decades actually, I embraced certainty.
I marked the wall before driving the nail. I spent hours on-line researching before buying a new TV; read the reviews before going to the movies. I asked around to gain the “scoop” on anyone my daughters seemed to be romantically interested in and got my shots before traveling to developing countries.
Not to say that I didn’t take risks. I did. I quit my job without having another one secured. I ate food off the floor, picked up hitchhikers; occasionally was a hitchhiker! I got married.
But every risk was a calculated risk. I knew the odds.
Or I thought I did.
I can’t count the times I was certain that:
That company is well managed.
That marriage will never last
He was wearing a blue shirt.
She is going to love these earrings.
I’d know if they were lying
This will be fun
It’s impossible for a bear to be in the attic
We have plenty of time
And I can’t count the times I was wrong.
What changed me was not an epiphany but the slow wearing down of reality. Like a rock carved out by water the strength of my belief in my own certitude was no match for the unpredictable, terrible and astonishing outcomes of real life.
A life governed not by my head, not by my heart but by something unknowable. Or maybe not.
Today I believe in embracing uncertainty. In moving in for the kiss, taking the new job, changing my mind about someone, choosing a path, drinking from the well all while knowing full well that I don’t know, may never know, if it’s a good idea or a terrible one.
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