Is it part of growing older that you realize you know nothing?
I'm not talking about that saying that goes 'the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.'
I'm referring to the knowing part of knowing nothing.
Let me try to explain this as clearly as I can. When I was younger, I thought I knew things. When I fell in love at 19, and then married him at 21, I knew that we would be together forever. I knew where my life was going and how it would get there. I knew what was important to me and what I wanted. When I had kids, I knew what they needed to grow up healthy and happy, and I knew how to give it to them.
Suddenly, I find myself approaching my 40th birthday this summer as a single mother who most days doesn't even know what she wants to eat for lunch. I am keenly aware of the fleeting nature of everything. All I know for sure is that anything could change at any time. I have a hard time answering questions about my opinions or preferences, because new information could come in and my perspective could change before I finish my sentence. When I go back and read articles I wrote years ago, I sometimes cringe and wonder how I could have been so sure about things.
It's tough for me now to make promises about the future, especially if emotions or feelings are involved. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, but did not acquire any kind of tangible evidence that planning for something consistently results in its occurrence.
As Stephen Levine says, "How then shall we live?" Being aware that anything could change at any time is unorthodox, and a tad unsettling until you get accustomed to it. I write my daytimer schedule in pencil, because one ring of the phone in the morning could reorganize my whole day. Back in my days of knowing, that phone call could trigger lots of resistance and thinking that things should not happen that way. Now, my thinking is more likely to sound like "Huh, okay then! This will be interesting." The deepest personal integrity I can muster up is to warn people about my ephemeral nature, so they can choose to hang out elsewhere if constancy is important to them.
But you know what? I kind of like it that way. I like not knowing. It's lots more fun than figuring it all out ahead of time. How boring it would be for my life to be limited to only what I can imagine! or even worse, to be limited only to what I can know or figure out.
I ask and then answer my own question: How then do I live? by embracing the paradox. by accepting that I can truly not know anything anymore, and nevertheless I can take the next step on the road to nowhere. or now-here, which I like even better. no more than that, and no less. just one step at a time, sauntering along a path that has no destination, and savoring every minute of it.