I think, therefore I worry
At the end of last week I answered several requests to answer some of my own questions put to you the reader. Several rightly and justly noted that I really did not fully answer the questions. To be more specific, I answered them, just not in detail. To deny the correctness of their critique would be a lie.
This week we are discussing self-knowledge. There are books about practically everything and while, there are a plethora of self-helps on this topic, there is no one book with all the answers. Certainly there is no one book with all your answers. We write out own story.
I decided many years ago that I did not know everything. AS a teacher I was supposed to be a subject matter expert and as a parent I was supposed to almost predict the future. How else could I possibly know what to prepare my children for if I did not know what issues they might encounter in their lives? I realized I was deficit in predicting the future and in knowing everything.
There are a great many quotes about knowledge and the danger in thinking one knows it all. Many scriptures warn against overconfidence in the field of knowledge, regardless of which religion of which they speak. Most of the Eastern spiritualities begin with man not being omnipotent, a finished product, but a work in progress. In the Christian tradition, one must confess to not being perfect or knowing everything before moving forward. The Jewish tradition even has a holiday set aside for confessing one’s failure to live correctly, to ask forgiveness from others for not living with perfect knowledge.
The knowledge we are focusing on this week is not found in a book. It is found in your heart. I have lived with myself longer than I have lived with anyone else. I have lived with myself more than anyone else has so I know my shortcomings. I know I am not perfect. I worried and continue to worry that in my humanness, I am too illiterate to do the tasks set before me by life.
For me the answer was to just do my best and remember that tomorrow would give me another new twenty-four to do better. As a parent, I lived a democracy within our family unit. My children were given choices and we voted on practically everything. Some things were non-negotiable. Respect and honesty were givens, both from the children but also from the parents. They also had to have some sort of spirituality or religion because I did not want them thinking life had no purpose. I also did not want them thinking they were a demi-god. While I dearly love my children from before I ever saw them or heard their heartbeats, they are human and subject to all the goofs and oops that we humans live.
Giving people a choice is risky. I can promise you that at some point they will decided against a course you would like them to take. March 1st is considered Super Tuesday once every four years in the United States of America and March 1, 2016 is Super Tuesday. In eleven states registered voters will go to voting polls in primary elections to vote on local, county, state, and national candidates. No states do this process exactly the same. It is one of the hallmarks of the diversity of the United States that other countries do not share. It is letting the public elect their leaders in a way that each state has approved.
My children never “had” to do anything except my respectful, honest, and live with some spiritual/religious base. That meant if they had a chore they did not want to do, they did not have to do it. In being honest, though, they did have to tell us they were not going to do the chore and explain their reasons. In being respectful, they had to hear our response to their reason(s). They still had to right to not do the chore; they just would have then known why we thought it important to do. Dialogue is a very important part of the process of democratic or respectful living. It is also imperative in the field of knowledge.
Life is a learning process. Because we are not born with little warranty tags attached to the back of our necks like clothing often has, we make mistakes. In thinking about our actions we realize that we have made errors. In looking ahead, we worry about making more. Life is not for the non-brave; it is scary.
I sometimes think that if there was a college that awards doctorate degrees in messing up, I would have a PhD from the University of Goofs. I have made my fair share of mistakes, quite possibly more than my fair share. I describe myself in the blog bio as a traveler on life’s journey. Each day I am a voter – making choices and believing my actions are correct. The feedback from life is my scorecard.
The trick to gaining self-knowledge, though, is not is a scorecard that lists only wins and fails. Many appraisal reports for children grade on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale. Instead of listing subjects, they list skills such as coordination, congeniality, listening, and paying attention. We need to engage in dialogue with ourselves that uses such a system. Instead of thinking of wins and losses, we need to recognize the skills gained in those wins and losses. Then we can increase our self-knowledge.
I can give you a list of what I was yesterday but today’s answer is still being lived and tomorrow remains a mystery. For centuries, mathematicians have proved and known that in base ten, 2 + 2 = 4. Yet, there are still more postulates to prove, algorithms to write. We have sat and looked at the moon since the dawn of the world. The dream was to reach it and we did. However, now we orbit above it, men and women living in harmony on the International Space Station. Reaching it was a goal but not the end.
I think; therefore I worry. What I need to do is change that worry into anticipation. I myself am far too willing to let bygones be. I perhaps respect the right of others a bit too much and do not stand up for myself enough. I seldom try to campaign about myself to others or call them on their own actions when they are rude to me. There is never a need to campaign in this manner with violence and I take pride in not being a violent person. I do realize that I can, nonetheless, be too passive and that is not fair to myself.
I, like you, still have much to learn. That is why I love your comments and feedback. I do not post names out of respect but I remember and know the authors of those comments. Your honesty with me is helping me grow. Give yourself the gift of today and be present in the knowledge of yourself. I think you will find you are a person worth knowing, blossoming in the knowledge of life and self, glowing in your unique diversity that promises of a wonderful tomorrow.