The more I know the less I know...
One theme that I found repeated, especially over the last decade, is that ironies have been a big part of the journey of 39 lessons. The latest one is looking at how I realized that as I grow in knowledge, I grow in ignorance. It seems as if the more I know, the less I know!! It has been a strange one to come to grips with. My teens and twenties was definitely a time where there were a lot of definitive and black and whites. No excuses. No regrets. I made decisions, I executed them, and I lived with the consequences. I was so sure of everything and I was all about cold hard facts.
Due to a series of unfortunate events, these facts began to crumble one by one. I questioned everything. And instead of my answers being more certainties, I started to see not just black and white, not even shades of grey, but suddenly the world erupted into a swirl of vibrant colours. Some of them were really bright, like the yellow of the sun which hurt my eyes, and some of them were yucky and disgusting greens, and some of them were beautiful stunning oranges and blues (like my favourite sunset, or the ocean on a cloudless day). Sounds good huh? Well I guess it was and it wasn’t. When the world is black and white, it is kind of easy to make decisions. And when your knowledge is limited, your choices are few. It is like when people say - ignorance is bliss. But once the colours break out then that is a whole 'nother story. I suppose it is like the difference between drawing in pencil, and using a palate of oil paints (something I did quite recently). Now I have all of these options, and which one do I use first, and in what order? Shall I mix them? How do I get just the shade of blue I want? Do I add white? Or black? Or red? The list goes on and on. Now that things aren’t certain, I realized that there is a world of information out there, and the more of it I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to know! Every time I open my mind to one possibility, I realize that there are 10 more out there, or a hundred or more! And I also realized the truth of something called metamerism (fancy word I learned in Dental school) which refers to colours which look the same in one light but which appear different in another light or from another angle (rough definition). The same is true in life – things look different depending on what angle you look at them from or the light you are using to shine on them.
Can you imagine how difficult this made the process of decision making? Not only do I have to now decide what colour I want, and what shade, now I have to figure out what angle to look at it from!
So after all of this rambling – what is my lesson? Well the first part of it was how I started this – the more I know the less I know. I had to get used to the fact that there was much out there that I didn’t know about, and to open my mind to new information, and for it to come from unexpected places. The more I learn, the more I know I need to learn, and I stay open to that; I listen without judgement. The second part is – not to let the information overwhelm me into indecision. We have a saying here – too much choice dilemma (often rolled into one word toomuchchoicedilemma – could do with a hashtag but I digress). This is an indication that once there are too many choices, it can actually cause more problems than it solves, and I need to find a screening process which allows me to make better decisions. I am attaching a link below from Tony Robbins, about letting go perfection around decisionmaking. I am still working on it, but in the meantime I like his framework and it is a good jumping off point which leads me nicely into the third part of the lesson. It is still fine for me to have black and whites. I still have my values, and it is perfectly acceptable to hear information, process it, and reject it as a part of my personal values. It doesn’t mean I reject the person saying it (although I might) it simply means that it is ok for me not to embrace that bit of information.
And lastly the fourth part, and to that lovely word metamerism – I need to make an effort to guide the light I shine on information. Since things look different depending on the light or angle, I need to choose the angle which I use to look at these colours. A person’s reality is heavily influenced by the opinion they form of what happens, and I need to ensure that the light I use allows any knowledge or experience I have to be useful and positive in my experience and growth. You will see more on this in my post – the beauty of imperfection – lesson 1.
For now I send you big love from a small island.
Here is the link to the article I mentioned.
Another great take on decisionmaking comes from one of my faves - Marie Forleo. I also link to this video in one of my other posts.
Ps - the photo above is one of some absolutely beautiful Tulips I saw in Istanbul (see travel stories 1). One of my favourite shades of orange (after sunsets of course!)