I Don’t Know the Answer to That

Source of first Image: Pinterest

I clearly remember how awesome I felt, coming home for a visit after my first quarter-term at university. I was nineteen years old and in those few months, I had magically learned absolutely all there was to know about life. I was ready to change the world. I was particularly scholarly and knowledgeable with regard to the handful of Psyc 101 classes I had attended up to that point, which had provided me with great insights into my parents. I quickly set to work to teach them everything I knew, knowing how happy they would be that I could ‘fix’ them now.

My father, in particular, was not amused.

University days eventually behind me, as I progressed through my twenties, it slowly started to dawn on me that I might just be… an imbecile, masquerading as a sort-of smart person. I was forever having to fake it in meetings where it was clear that my entire education had been for naught: there was so much I didn’t know; so many books I hadn’t read yet; so many conferences to attend; so many experts to meet and so many blasted acronyms to learn! I spent all of my twenties and a good chunk of my thirties slogging doggedly uphill, pretending to be a smart person.

Having children was the biggest eye-opener of them all. Having carefully catalogued – as I watched my clearly-inept parents – all the mistakes I didn’t intend to make on my own children, I was left with no choice but to reinvent the wheel. I started out so confidently. After all, I knew all the things I didn’t want to do as a parent. How hard could it be to do the ‘right’ thing?

Let’s just say my kids may create blogs of their own on that subject one day soon, and leave it at that…

By the time I reached the pinnacle of my career, I actually was fairly knowledgeable in my chosen field. I had quiet confidence. I knew my strengths and I used them to their best advantage. I also knew my weaknesses and gratefully relied on colleagues to fill in those blanks. I had learned a lot about human nature as well: the charming people with the biggest, fakest smiles were the folks I had learned to avoid, when I could. And some of the people I trusted most were so quiet and humble as to be nearly invisible. I didn’t need my old Psyc 101 classes to tell me the difference. I had figured that out on my own, through much trial and error.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know my limits – that has turned out to be one of my lifelong challenges – and so, after a truly spectacular burnout, I spent many years hiding in my head, having little energy to do anything other than think. And read. And think some more. Clearly, I did not have it ‘all put together’. Clearly, there was some inner reorganising to do. For the first time in many decades, I had the time to focus on things other than my work: I had the time to look closely at myself and this world I live in and to formulate opinions outside my sphere of knowledge. I had the time to pay attention to politics. I had the time to learn how to knit. I had the time to learn about gardening. I had the time to apologise to my children for mistakes I have made. I had the time to forgive my parents for, well… everything. I had the time to deeply question religion, and God and spirituality.

Source of second image: Quotes Gram

It’s been another slow, uphill slog, rethinking everything I thought I knew about life.

And as I have become more focussed on the world around me, I have come to realise that it’s so hard not to have an opinion these days. So many of us are like that nineteen-year-old ‘me’ with a handful of Psyc 101 courses under their belt, thinking they now have all the answers. So many of us have jumped on the bandwagon of some dude on the Internet (or on the television) who has lots of charisma and sounds really, really convincing. And there are so many things to sound off about: is climate change real? Is ‘this’ side better than ‘that’ side or are all politicians caught up in their own web and just too corrupt – or too influenced – to be trusted? Is democracy dead? Can we ever overcome corporate greed? Who’s really in charge? What do we do with all that freaking plastic???

In the seven years since my life turned on its head, I have come to this conclusion: the older I get, the less I know about anything. It doesn’t matter how much I read. It doesn’t matter how many experts I listen to. Even the experts who have spent years and years studying their chosen field – even when they are on the same side of an issue – even they sometimes disagree with one another.

Because life is complex. Because that charismatic dude on the television; or those few Pcyc 101 classes; or that really well-designed Web page that you refer to all the time on Google: are never going to provide you with all the answers.

The thing is, they aren’t the answer: they’re just another one of the questions.

As long as we are arguing with one another, we are doomed. Because no one – I repeat – no one has all the answers. All we have is one another; and the respect, the common sense and the empathy that hopefully, some grown-up taught us along the way.

The best we mere humans can do is to listen to every side of every. single. argument. and then start each sentence with: “Excuse me, I know I could be mistaken, but is it possible that…?’

Source of third image: Tiny Buddha on Twitter

Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

13 thoughts on “I Don’t Know the Answer to That”

  1. Immediately after reading your post, the little song that Alistair Sim as Scrooge sings near the end of the movie popped into my head, and I fear I’ll be singing it all day long now! “I don’t know anything, I never did know anything!” 😂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you for sharing!!… life is a daily learning process… “ I am currently attending the School of Life, learning more about the universe and me… and Graduation Day will be the day of my funeral and it is then I will know if I failed or I succeeded and graduated”… (Larry “Dutch” Woller)… 🙂

    Hope school is all you wish for it to be and until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In your thirties, you realize what you don’t know. In your forties, you learn them. When you get to your fifties, you start to question the benefit from any of it. When you get to sixties, you almost reach an epipheny but suddenly, your granddaughter spills her milkshake on your lap…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, and it all rings very true. 🤗 🔆
    You’re right, life and everything within it is complex, not everything is as black and white as it might seem. Some people can’t seem to mind-shift into discussion mode, everything is about who is right and who is wrong – very exhausting and just makes me not want to engage with them, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: