9

No One Has It Figured Out

I can think of at least one exception to every “rule” of 30×30, except this one. There’s just too much. There are lifetime after lifetime after lifetime of books to read, people to meet, music to hear, places to visit, thoughts to think, foods to taste, phenomena to observe, and so on. Anyone who claims to have even a decent handle on the world as we know it can’t be trusted. I’ll go a step further: They’re probably an asshole. (If there is one resounding theme of 30×30, it’s that you really, really don’t want to be an asshole. There’s nothing worse.)

This is the principle reason I distrust most politicians, clergymen, fanatics, CEOs, and anyone else who claims to have a monopoly on all the right ideas. People who are truly intelligent and sensitive to the world around them are in a constant state of questioning and doubt, so much so that many of them go crazy. Try to avoid that while still embracing the noble reality that you will never, ever have it all figured out. It’s a bit of a relief, once you swallow that pill. I’ve freed up a lot of time to have fun and do what I want instead of what I think I ought to be doing.

Ever hear the story of the zen master? It’s not mine, but works well here: Briefly, there’s this boy in an ancient village who gets a horse for his birthday. The villagers say, “what great news!” Zen master says, “we shall see.” A couple years later, the boy falls off that horse and breaks his leg. The villagers say “what terrible news!” to which the zen master responds, “we shall see.” A few years later the village goes to war, but the boy can stay home and live because he has a bad leg. “What great news!” the villagers say. “We shall see,” says the zen master… and on, and on. Get it?

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© 2012, Ian Mathias

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