Why I Don't Want Answers
I am feeling on shaky ground this week. The more I delve into and share my human experience, the more vulnerable I seem to feel. I would have thought that I’d get comfortable with the discomfort of truth-telling, the confessions of perfectionism, the unshackling of old experiences. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s as if opening one door leads to a corridor of more mysterious doors to confront. And the further I venture, the less I am familiar with my surroundings. I suppose that’s why most of us won’t ever chose to be free from at least some constraints. There is comfort in familiarity, even when it hurts.
But this morning, I read this from Albert Einstein: The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious, the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. And something began to lift. It is my perfectionism that paints the mysterious in dark colours. The truth is that I am drawn, compelled, impelled, mesmerized and hypnotized by mystery. By the awesomeness of not knowing - especially because I am immersed in a culture that loves to know. The experience of facing the unknown is only difficult and uncomfortable when I resist it. It is, in fact, exactly what I want.
What I’m beginning to see is the common denominator in all the areas of life that fascinate me. Creativity, imagination, art, spirituality, philosophy, science. I’m not facile with retaining details, but big ideas and explorations seduce and engage me. This week, I’ve been grappling with what I’m doing here. Here in this blog and here on this planet. Because, you know, if you’re going to grapple, go big or go home. After 50 years of trying to work things out intellectually, I’m tired of thinking. How far has it gotten me to try to think the right thoughts? Do the right thing? Or be the right person? The surprising outcome of a life led by intellect is that it’s made very little difference to my quality of life. The best things I’ve experienced have come through instinct - jobs I’ve enjoyed, opportunities I followed, the man I married (the second time). Having the latest information, the most informed opinions, or the right answer has only ever been, at best, a consolation prize.
For my next act, my second half-century, I intend to expand on last week’s musings and focus on the unknown. Not to turn it into more known stuff, but to actually embrace and play with it. To practice what Buddha called “beginner’s mind.” To surrender to what takes my breathe away, what makes me disappear as an identity, and what pulls me into what psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi termed “flow”. This is the experience I have when I am so connected with the Muse that I feel words pouring out of my pen onto the page without necessarily understanding if makes sense. The outcome is that the content of my writing seems smarter than me. Some artists describe it as downloading, like it’s out there for the taking but definitely not personal. It is this magic and mystery and wonder and awe that interests me. Not as a means to an end, but as an experience in and of itself.
Perhaps what I’m referring to is the experience of human potential, or higher consciousness. I don’t know. I don’t need to know! That would be antithetical to the point. That would be an explanation and I am not interested in more intellectual understanding. It’s this other, this experience of divine bewilderment that I’m after. This expanse requires surrender rather than study, trust rather than proof, letting go rather than pushing through. Obviously, there’s room (and need) for all of it. But my brave new world is in the unknown and unknowable. I will no longer ignore the cues of my heart, my nerves, or my gut. I will hone my Spidey senses. Because what I do know is that the more I live and the more I learn, the less I know for sure. Besides, answers are so last 50.