Don’t Know

don't know question mark 3“The more I see, the less I know.” – Michael Franti 

I don’t know what to write.

I start three different posts on three interesting topics all with nice quotes to get me going … and I’m staring at the screen with a heavy feeling in my chest and that stupid blinking cursor poised above an empty page.

Some days, I don’t know anything about anything and I’m not even sure what’s going on.
Sometimes I just don’t know.
Actually, I never know.

If you read this blog much at all, you know that most days I feel anxious about one thing or another. At the moment, I slide into my tense, jittery anxiety jacket about not knowing. In particular, not knowing what the next few months will look like.

My husband Frank and I are putting our house on the market in early April. The house we want to move into is available in September. With even a modicum of calendar skills, you’ll notice there’s a space between those two things. Space and about a thousand moving, multicolored Rubik’s Cube parts.

So I get anxious some days because we don’t know. And Frank calmly and kindly tells me, Actually, we never know.
Right, right. I keep forgetting that: we never know.
We just pretend we do.

All this leads me to a cascade of wonderings about the nature of reality, our perception, and of course, The Matrix.

I ask myself, What do I know for sure?
Over lunch I ask Frank (poor thing), What do you know for sure?
Even together, we don’t come up with much.

Everybody wants to be happy. We disagree on this one: I say yes, he says no.

Everybody will die someday. Frank is holding out for our brains going into the nutrient bath so we can live in a virtual reality which leads to…

I’m sitting here at this table with you. In this reality, says Frank. Yes, yes, the Matrix, I say. An alternate reality of which I am unaware is challenging to argue.

Everything changes. That one we agree on.

Pretty slim pickings for a question that seems like it should have way more answers. And that’s the thing: for whatever reason, our human brains want things to be solid and for sure. I suppose it feels safer to think we know how things will go but that’s a pretty lame safety net since it simply isn’t the way things are.

We pretend we know, but we don’t. We create an illusion of solidity, when actually, everything is groundless.


Except for this moment. If we set aside the whole alternate-reality-Matrix thing, I can find some solidity, some ground in this moment. Feeling the sensations that are happening right now and making the best choice from there is as close as I can get to knowing anything.

As we get the house ready to show and I clear out cabinets and closets, I keep thinking of the meditation on the Buddha’s Five Remembrances:

1.) I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
2.) I am of the nature to have ill-health. There is no way to escape ill-health.
3.) I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
4.) All that is dear to me and everyone that I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5.) My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.

While this meditation may seem like a serious bummer, the Buddha offered it as a reminder to wake up from our denial of impermanence and our constructed illusion of knowing. It’s an invitation to get comfortable with not knowing and see that freedom and peace can be found right here.

Despite my human tendency to want to know, I never know. Times like these when my not knowing is so patently obvious can help me release my grip, relax, and be here.

  1. Thank you for this one Susan. Maybe when you don’t know what to write you somehow channel from the great beyond. Good thoughts. AH

    • Maybe so, Anne! But as Frank pointed out, it’s kind of a one trick pony, so I’m hoping the Great Beyond just calls in directly! Thanks for reading. So much.

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