The more I learn, the more I drift away from a kind of slumbering state of “knowing” and toward an awakened state of not knowing…just the sort of process that snakes its way through nearly every aspect of my life, mercilessly triggering a reddening embarrassment and the compulsory thought, “What was I thinking?”
My first reaction is to discover from whence my older, unwiser, ideas might’ve arisen. (Perhaps it’s prudent to avoid these sources in the future?) But everywhere I look, I find that my source was merely another person: an opinion here, a “fact” there, a persuasive argument, an all-knowing solution. As a consequence, I’ll think, “I ought not to glom onto another’s point of view, no matter how eloquently it might’ve been stated.”
But this instantly presents a problem. Usually, the very instrument used to shake loose an old idea is wielded by yet another person in the form of a newer, wiser notion, an updated “fact”, a more sensible opinion, a crushing argument against the heretofore all-knowing solution. And so I’m back where I started. It’s a paradox: the very source of an idea makes me want to reject that same source moving forward. But clearly that’s not possible. Besides, I’m not fool enough to think I have all the answers. I believe we really do need each other.
It occurs to me that the people with the strongest convictions typically labor under the delusion that things currently known about a particular subject are all that can ever *be* known, but this has simply never been true. History proves them wrong time and time again, and I’m inclined to adopt a stance that the harder one presses me about a thing, the quicker I’ll sidestep his or her assertion. But that, too, can be a trap.
It’s fun to imagine a day when all might be known to us. Until then, I’ll enjoy picking away at my past and wondering which of my current beliefs I’ll abandon tomorrow.
Perhaps it’ll be this one.