I don’t know so many things. Most of what I do know is only an approximation of reality. Yes, I have a sort of “reality”, and how I describe that is also an approximation. What I remember is only a fraction of what happened before and even the words I use to describe that, well, they are an approximation, too. I think it is even fair to say that every record we have ever made of “reality”, be it our words, our memories, pictures, and video — yeah, that’s all an approximation of what really happened.
So my basic philosophy is I don’t know. My name doesn’t even come close to describing who I am. I could write my own, very detailed autobiography and I still can’t give you a complete description of who I am because words are limited in their ability to describe myself. The best way to know me is to be with me. So I spend a lot of time, usually early in the morning, just being with myself. Writing, analyzing, review my life day by day. An unexamined life is not worth living, so they say.
I am agnostic. Not just about God or any sort of deity that could rule the cosmos. I am agnostic about everything. It’s not that I disbelieve everything, it’s that what I do know is a tiny sliver of what is going on right now. I don’t watch the news much. I don’t read the news much. I just focus on what is before me. Family, friends, home, and job. And writing. And maybe a bit of recreation, too.
What do I mean by “tiny sliver”? Although our senses give us a sense of reality, they can only do so much. Our eyes see a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, what we know as “visible light”. Our ears can only detect a tiny sliver of the sound spectrum. Our noses aren’t even very sensitive compared to say, a dog’s nose. Our sense of touch, though very sensitive, is still no match for animals which seem to get agitated before an earthquake hits. That is something I’ve seen first hand.
And every day, we expose ourselves to video, pictures, and sounds, which, as far as I can tell, only leave us more jaded as entertainment technology becomes more and more immersive. By jaded, I mean less sensitive to reality.
I say, “I don’t know” because I recognize that what I know is not the whole story of what unfolds before me. I say, “I don’t know” to acknowledge that although I have collected some knowledge, experience and wisdom, my tiny little brain is simply no match for the universe. So I use that statement, “I don’t know”, to keep myself humble. “I don’t know” is not just my philosophy, it is the starting point of every inquiry I’ve ever made. I would rather say that “I don’t know” and start to investigate, rather than to assume something to be right only to be disappointed later.
I say “I don’t know” to reserve judgment, for as I’ve mentioned before, my judgment is often flawed. “I don’t know” allows me room for error. “I don’t know” allows me room to change my mind upon finding new information. “I don’t know” is the simplest expression of what it means to be agnostic about everything.
I am agnostic to allow room for new information. That is to say, that I reserve judgment so that I can avail myself of new information. I am constantly discarding old information for new information, a state of mind that I think is inconsistent with “belief”. I have in the past held beliefs despite new information presented to me, and paid dearly for it. So I have been discarding beliefs as much as possible in order to stay sane, to stay aware, to stay in the present.
This isn’t to say that I believe nothing, this is to say that I will discard a belief if I can sense even a whiff of a scent of an error in judgment. My world is always changing. Therefore, my state of mind is always changing so as to adjust and adapt to a world that is changing. My state of mind is not of knowing, it is of wanting to see what will happen next.
If my mind is set on belief, that belief may make it harder for me to see what happens next, without adulteration. When I make a decision to be agnostic, what I am really doing is making every effort to be present for the moment, to accept it for what it is, without any preconceived notions. I am, most of the time, in a constant state of keeping my mind open so that I can accept reality for what is it, and nothing more.
For once I can accept reality for what it is, even love what is, I can better make a decision about what to do next. This is the first step to happiness and contentment, as I do not believe it is possible to be happy unless we can accept what is now, without reservation. I believe this to be true, no matter what our station in life, whether we’re poor, rich, lonely or engulfed in humanity.
In order to be happy about anything, anything at all, we must accept our circumstances at the moment. We must accept that what we know is all that we know for now, that what we have is all that we have for now, and that how we feel is all that we feel for now. It’s all temporary anyway, so even if we’re not happy, there is some value in finding the good in the moment, right now.
It is from this philosophy, this line of thinking, that I have lived in relative peace for much of my adult life. I have no personal adversaries, no need to change anyone, no one to impress, no need for an advantage over another person, and I’m happy and content because of that attitude.
I don’t know means I don’t know what other people are going through if they say something to offend me or to punish me (in their own minds) for some perceived offense, when I’m really just minding my own business. So if I don’t know, then I have no need or desire to punish someone, to reply in haste, to do something rash. I can just let the feeling pass because I don’t know.
I don’t know allows me to wander and to wonder. I don’t know allows me to not know something and be OK with that. I don’t know is how I start each day. I really don’t know what will happen next, so I make a point to set aside my beliefs and notions so that I can take the day in as it comes. I don’t do what I do to make something happen. I do what I do to see what will happen next. For every interaction is really just me testing the world, poking it gently to see what kind of response I will get.
I have found as the days, weeks and months go by, the days between periods of drama tend to stretch longer than before, just by accepting everything, exactly the way it is, without reservation. And even that makes it easier for me to say, I don’t know because I have found that acceptance makes it easier for me to live without anxiety. I live without anxiety because I don’t have to change anything. With acceptance I can just watch the parade go by and enjoy it. I don’t need to know how the parade ends, I only need to enjoy watching it go by.
Originally published at steemit.com on September 11, 2018.