The Freedom of Not Knowing

Flatirons‘Do you believe in aliens?’, she asked.

‘Do I really have to have an opinion?’, I replied.

‘Come on, play the game’, she said.

‘Ugh, ok’, and I gave it a shot.

When my first kid arrived, I quickly learned that insanity would be the result if I didn’t learn to let go.

I also saw that constant correction would ruin my relationship with my kids, and make me miserable.

This was a big change from my 20s, when my game was to compete on all fronts, all-the-time.

So my daughter taught me a powerful lesson for becoming more effective.

Be aware that…

  • The more opinions I need to have
  • The more memories I need to hold
  • The more things I think about fixing

…the more energy I spend thinking.

…and this thinking-energy takes away from my doing-energy.

Creating a habit of not-knowing takes practice. From our earliest memories, we’ve been rewarded for knowing, for remembering.

Like a quiet kid at the back of the class – we can be scared to admit that we don’t have the answer.

So here’s what I told her.

I’ll tell you what I know.

I know that we overstate our importance in the world.

I know that I’m prone to fooling myself about the importance of my opinions.

As for the aliens, E. O. Wilson has a section on them in his most recent book and I saved some energy by defaulting to his opinion.