I Don’t Know…

“It’s much more interesting to live not knowing than have answers which might be wrong.”
Richard Feynman, Physicist

Replying with “I don’t know” has become much easier for me than in years past. Particularly in my 20’s and 30’s I seemed to always be able to spout an answer or proffer an often-unsolicited opinion to any question. Rather than give the honest answer that I did not know I would come up with some sort of bullshit. Perhaps this is because I have simply become less enamored with the sound of my own voice but I would like to think it rather represents a more mature and honest way of replying, that is to often say nothing. There are so many things I really don’t know.

Part of the reason I am able to better accept the reality of not knowing, rather than offering-up the first thing that pops into my head, I attribute to my Zen practice with the Kwan Um School, from 1994-2009 approximately.  This is a Korean sect and the teachings of Zen Masters Seung Sahn and Soeng Hyang (aka Bobby Rhodes) definitely laid the groundwork for my understanding of the “don’t know mind”.  Much work on my part remains but I take the advice of Seung Sahn to heart: “try, try, try… for 10,000 years nonstop”. This quote is obviously a metaphor for perseverance on my part since I am not a big believer in reincarnation. What we are “trying” for here is encapsulated in this short quote by Richard Shrobe from his book Don’t Know Mind-Korean Zen: “Don’t know mind is our enlightened mind before ideas, opinions, or concepts arise to create suffering”.

If someone with absolutely nothing better to do was to look at my writings closely they could surmise that the more quotes I use is indicative of how at a loss for my own words I was on a particular topic, thank you Gillian. Today would be no exception so here goes with another one and you will need to stretch a bit to connect this to today’s topic but it is great quote nonetheless. This one from Stephen Hawking:

“I have noticed that even those who assert everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before crossing the street.”

One more tangential quote I happened on while prowling the Internet looking for guidance on something to write about today is from Mrs. Betty Bower. She is a humorist/satirist who bills herself as a Republican and America’s Best Christian. I highly recommend you follow her on Facebook. Her satire often comes with a hilarious dose of snark. A recent post:

“Dear fellow Republicans: It is so important to take every opportunity to remind other Americans that you are Christian. Otherwise how would they ever guess?”

 I retired from full time nursing in 2010 but since then have had extended periods of part-time work often exceeding 20 hours per week. I have though for the past year and a half been able to stay fully retired. Probably the most irritating question I get these days is ‘well what are you doing?’ I often assume, rightly or wrongly, that the implication is that I am doing not much that is worthwhile. My gut, but rarely vocalized, answer is well “fuck you, I don’t know.”  Admittedly this is a bit defensive and probably requires some more self-examination on my part as to how I do spend my days. My usual response though almost always does start with “I don’t know … but the days do fly by” or some such crap.

I could I suppose make up stuff like I am working tirelessly in various soup kitchens or I reading to the blind or doing volunteer hospice work with barely anytime to relax or sleep.  Or I could be much more honest and say I am spending a lot of time watching Internet porn and perusing Facebook for funny quotes to fill up space in my SAGE writings.

Really I am not a total reprobate but I do not feel the need to offer up the really worthwhile things I am doing often helping those close to me. Perhaps the most honest answer to the question would be “I don’t know … perhaps I could do more. Do you have any suggestions?”