THE BEST WAY TO FIND YOUR WAY
IS IN THE SILENCE OF THE QUESTION
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
~ Albert Einstein
Why does not knowing make us so uncomfortable?
The unknown freaks us out to high levels of uneasiness and anxiety, and the need to have an answer is so strong that sometimes any answer will do. As long as we have an answer to lean on, we feel safe.
Not knowing makes us feel like we are standing on the edge of the edge of a cliff in an earthquake.
Remember how when we were little kids, not knowing was a wonderful thing? We used to ask our parents a gazillion questions, exhausting them with “WHY?” after every answer we got.
The world was vastly open with infinite limitless possibilities, opportunities and things to explore.
Not knowing, asking, exploring, pondering, wondering, curiosity, trying, learning, questioning everything and having fun with not knowing was our natural exciting way of living and exploring life.
When and why did it change so drastically?
When did we start shutting down these curiosities and the expansion of our world and start limiting ourselves with answers that defined our world and closed the possibility of something different? When and why did we start clinging to answers, committing ourselves to them like our lives depended on them, whether they were answers we liked or not?
Why is it so important for us to live in a world of facts?
I used to hate not knowing.
It drove me crazy. Literally. It was an anxiety-ridden, obsessive thinking kind of crazy.
I’d find myself sometimes in heated arguments, defending my “knowing” like my life depended on it.
Not knowing is like falling out of an airplane with no parachute. Admitting that you don’t know is like JUMPING out of an airplane without a parachute!
Not knowing is weak!
Not knowing is shameful!
What I know HAS to be right. Because if it’s not, then other things I think I know might be wrong too. If I’m not right, I am wrong, which means something is wrong with ME.
It might also mean that what my parents taught me was wrong, too, and what generations ahead of me taught their offspring. It all could be wrong!
You get the point. We would rather die not knowing than admitting that we don’t know.
So I stopped doing things that I didn’t “know.”
Because that would be weak, and I don’t like feeling weak.
Weak is vulnerable, and I didn’t do vulnerable!
I lived in my bubble world of knowing, feeling safe and righteous.
I was living in a constant state of defending, confronting, or avoiding.
I sheltered myself in a tight-closed world of a false illusion of safety.
Because living happens in the not knowing.
I learned it the hard way.
First, in bits and pieces of disappointments, unpleasant surprises, and frustrating things.
Add a few major detours in life, a few big falls. A pinch of betrayals and a growing mountain of challenges.
I was slowly grasping the inevitable of “sometimes you just don’t know.” I still hated it. It still provoked my heart into racing fear and “free falling.” But I accepted that sometimes, this is how it’s going to be. But only sometimes.
Because mostly, I could still stay in my safe bubble of my knowing.
Life had a different plan for me.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
~ Anaïs Nin
I might have lived not doing the vulnerability thing, but it sure as hell did do me…
I woke up one day to find that somehow, without any warning, without my consent, my bubble was gone!
It was poked and popped and vanished without a trace.
A dizzy falling with a no-end sensation followed, spinning me like a rag doll.
Endless dizzy spinning, falling and crashing through a thin shattering ground of glass, over and over.
All that I ever thought I knew was gone.
Nothing to lean on.
No idea what to do or how to continue.
It was pitch black and scary. Very scary. Petrifying.
I couldn’t move. I just lay there. In the dark. Alone.
Me and my thoughts. Me and my not knowing.
I needed something to cling to.
I had to find something to help me get up.
I had to find something. No matter what. No matter how small. Some small tiny thing. Even if not significant at all. I had to find something that I did know.
The first question was born: What DO I know? I repeated that question over and over again. What DO I know? WHAT do I know? What do I KNOW?
Sometimes, I came up with immediate answers: I know my name is Lian. I know I have five fingers on each hand. I know it’s daytime.
First, it was an anchor. A lifeline I clung to. What do I know? Well, I know that _____.
Then it started shifting.
I started getting curious about it.
The one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t know.
I started asking the question without trying to answer it immediately. I just asked, without having to answer, without that knee jerk automatic reaction of answering.
I asked my question into space. Sometimes it bounced back with an answer; sometimes it didn’t…
I was practicing, or more like wrestling, with a new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable place. It was the place of “I don’t know.”
What do I know? Answer: I don’t know.
Okay, what don’t I know? Answer: I don’t know.
How will you know? Answer: I have no idea.
What do you want? Answer: I’m not sure.
I was trying to dig and come up with answers, just to get that feeling of relief from having an answer. But none of my answers felt that way. They didn’t calm me down. They didn’t feel like relief. They were frustrating, unsatisfying and didn’t feel true.
So I kept asking.
I went back in time to when I was five years old and asked again and again “why?” to every answer that came up. I decided to dig deep, as deep as possible, to find the root of the answers, the hidden real reason behind the answers.
Why don’t I know? –Because I don’t know
Why do I not know? –Great question, but I DON’T KNOW!
Why? –Because I’m trying to figure it out…
What are you trying to figure out? –I don’t know. Maybe the rest of my life….
You don’t like your life? –No.
You don’t like anything about your life? –No. Well, not everything.
Oh, what do you like then? –Well, let’s see, I don’t know…. I need to think about it.
My world became a giant question mark surrounded by an endless sea of possibilities.
I could fill the empty space inside myself with anything I wanted to, discard anything I didn’t want or that didn’t serve me anymore. I could commit to nothing and change my mind when I felt like it.
Not knowing became a place where I could build whatever I wanted.
Not knowing became a gift of exploration.
We laugh about it now, but for a very long time, everybody KNEW that the world was FLAT!
Everyone KNEW that there were witches! Everyone KNEW that people couldn’t fly!….
I felt like Columbus, sailing the winds of possibilities in a sea of opportunities. I was in a place where I could explore and find new things, change, create, achieve, receive, and stumble upon….
Questions thrown into the wind became an exciting new adventure where everything in theory was possible.
So, what do we really know? Is it really true? Are you really willing to bet your life on it?!
I slowly started embracing the unknown. I stopped seeking for answers. I started enjoying the unanswered question. I even started playing with questioning the questions.
Is there a better way to ask this question? How can I ask it in a different way?
The question itself became more important than the answer, because I finally knew that whatever answer I came up with had the potential of being a temporary one. And I was okay with that (most of the time).
This is my world now. A world of floating open in the vastness of questions, curiosity, temporary answers and flexibility of change, learning, failing, falling, rising and exploring.
Questions have become a wonderful way to get to know other people, to feel the world, to challenge myself, to allow, to flow to relax.
It’s interesting to live this way.
Questions have an infinite power of their own.
Questions have more power than answers.
Questions are my key to my freedom….
Are you willing to let go and question what you think you know?
Are you willing to ask questions that have no immediate answer?
Are you willing to sit in the space of not knowing, and listen?
The answers, my friends, is blowing in the winds of our forever changing life.
The questions…well, the questions are our guiding friends for the treasures that are waiting for us to unravel.
Is this a good thing? I don’t know. I think it is… It feels nice. It feels more peaceful to me. It’s good for now, for today. Today it feels right.
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