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?
<– PREVIOUS ••• NEXT –>
© 2012, Ian Mathias
You’re second paragraph reminded me of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Ignorant people are more likely to rate their abilities higher than is realistic, while people who are competent are more likely to assume that others have equal or higher knowledge in their area [Wikipedia: Dunning-Kruger Effect]
As Betrand Russel said “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision” [Also Wikipedia]
That quote is terrific, seriously. Thank you.
this is my favorite.
I think this is my favorite so far, as well. And I never read that story anywhere, but it stuck in my head from when it was told in “Charlie Wilson’s War”…it was the most profound part of the movie. I dig it…
Holy crap haha. I just commented on your rule of not using certain expression about 2 ago and was gonna write that my favorite taoist expression is “maybe so” (another version of we shall see. same story, different words) but decided against it for the sake of brevity. Glad someone else loves the story enough to write it out… though, again, it’s almost the same thing as saying “it could be worse” if you think about it. More of a “good be worse or could be better” which should be equally bad if you don’t like the “it could be worse.” Just sayin’. This must be in the 40%.
Whomever has figured at least _some_ important part of it out will likely be either too obscure or require _way_ too long explanation or prior knowledge to be understood. And, of course, _even_ if correct, whatever it is it is not likely to be _completely_ correct.