Not So Smart After All
When I was twenty-eight, I thought I knew almost everything.
At thirty-eight, it was becoming apparent that I wasn’t nearly as smart as I had originally thought. Now, at forty-eight, I realise I don’t know much at all. In fact, if I stay on my current trajectory, by fifty-eight I will be a total ignoramus and by sixty-eight I may well be a plant in the foyer of some fancy hotel.
I hope someone waters me.
If nothing else, the last twenty years have taught me the value of being open-minded. Of being prepared to unlearn. Of being more humble and less self-righteous. Of asking better questions. Of listening to others. Really listening. And of looking at old things in new ways. They have also taught me that it’s okay to not know things; which is handy because I don’t know most things. They have also taught me that it’s okay to be wrong. And to make mistakes. And to be scared. Which is also great because I’m often wrong, scared and mistaken.
Oh, to be omnipotent.
Along the way I’ve also learned that some of us feel obligated to be ‘certain and absolute’ about particular things that, if we’re being totally honest, it’s almost impossible to be certain and absolute about. God. Life after death. Love. Relationships. Happiness. The meaning of life. Right. Wrong. Who should win The Voice. The likelihood of an earthquake in Melbourne.
Just to name a few.
A State of Flux
It’s fair to say that my beliefs, standards, ideas and even my world-view (we all have one) have all changed significantly over the last decade or two. In fact, it’s also fair to say that, in my world, all those things are in a constant state of flux. That is, they are constantly evolving. As am I. They’re always up for discussion. And analysis. Unlike the past, these days I’m not particularly attached to them. Emotionally, that is. I don’t always need to know. I don’t need to be right. And I don’t need to win.
Despite what some of us have been taught, life’s not a competition.
For me, letting go of the need to be right, certain and absolute was one of the most liberating journeys I’ve ever allowed myself to take. It was like stepping out of chaos and into calm. It was a relief. Looking back, I think it was my insecurity and lack of self-esteem that compelled me to (want to) be all-knowing, certain and right.
Or, at the very least, to appear that way.
It’s not that I set out to have dynamic beliefs (etc.) but rather that, as I became more open and honest with myself and others, and less compelled to be right, I came to understand how foolish and arrogant it was of me to be so one-dimensional and non-negotiable in my thinking and my beliefs. It seems that some of us have bought into the lie that being open to any paradigm other than our current one is to put ourselves in a dangerous and vulnerable position. In my experience, the exact opposite is true.
So, if twenty years from now you happen to see me in the foyer of some fancy hotel, don’t forget to give me a little water and wipe my leaves. 🙂