Opinion: Wisdom Workout

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Diving into the Unknown 

Susan Valesquez

It seems that life might make more sense if we can get enough answers neatly lined up. However, if it were possible to have all the answers, would we be elevated to the status of expert and be protected from disasters as a result? 

I once heard a well-respected speaker who took the microphone say that he gets nervous when billed as an expert. “When you break down the word expert, it isn’t as complimentary as I once thought. You see, an ex is a has-been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure.”

What if we turn away from storing answers in favor of elevating not knowing to a more important status? Try it on. “I don’t know. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I don’t know the answer. I don’t have an instant ready-made response.”  

I don’t know who you are based on your age, address, or title. I can’t begin to know your depth of pain, life experiences and knowledge. Your depth of abilities, fears, wishes, hopes and dreams.

Claiming expertise seems to be a national pastime. It amazes me how often I hear quick, fast pronouncements of simplistic, one-size-fits-all answers to complex situations volunteered aggressively without being asked.

So much is thrown at us daily that doesn’t have a quick answer. We become passive observers of horrible tragedies through the nightly news that can leave us deeply disturbed as we witness the pain of others with no ability to comfort or help.

My heart clutches as I listen to an interview and feel the pain of the mother of a boy who went on a killing spree. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to close my eyes again,” she says. In response, the reporter unblinkingly asks her another insensitive, strategic question. Watching her, I know why we pretend to know more than we do. We do it for protection because when we say, “I don’t know,” it makes us vulnerable and easily get-able. It allows others to jump in and try to fill us up with their answers.

I won’t let you see my vulnerability. You won’t let me see yours. We are at a stalemate, and our lives get colder, more isolated and more predictable. We become more emotionally distant from others and ourselves. Distanced from our bigger questions, our transformational curiosity and alert innocence. 

It takes courage to stay in the questioning process. It takes alert, awake intention to lead an adventurous life. We must honor our unknowns. Our undiscovered attributes. Our budding dreams and wishes, hopes and desires.  

Newly born ideas and visions must be nurtured and loved. They need to be parented until they can stand on their own. “I have a new idea, and it is in the I-don’t-know-what-it-will-become stage.” “I do not know what I’m going to do about this situation but I reserve the right to find my own answers.” “I have no response to that question.” “I don’t want your input right now. The idea is too fragile and new to be critiqued.”

It takes courage to say these things but say them you must. To your partner. To your friends. To your loved ones. To yourself. Whoever is unwittingly killing your passion for the unknown?

Guard your wondering, questioning, and curious self with a passion fit for a mother tiger protecting her cubs. Stand up for your process of becoming. Don’t allow yourself to be pressed, slotted and formed into a static, predictable, packaged and labeled life.

Beware of allowing your insecurities to turn your life’s adventure into an accident of sameness and mediocrity instead of the intriguing, ongoing adventure it is meant to be.

Susan is a local writer and author of Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. susanvelasquez.com.

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