Monday, June 19, 2017

I still seek understanding - Part three

I like, when they talk real loud try to tell you what they know
I like, when it blows real hard and it doesn't even show
They say: It's plain to see, life is not a mystery to me - I Like, Men Without Hats


It is the shifting and variability of thinking that scares me. Because I seek definition and understanding it is all rather frightening when someone thinks one thing and then, for whatever reason, either changes their mind or even refines their thinking. I would like to think that I am intelligent enough to:
  • Read a book by a particular thinker
  • Understand their perspective
  • Find what portions of their perspective applies to my life
  • Make the necessary changes in my life to conform to their truth claims
I mean, don't I do this every day? I see myself in the mirror and notice that my cowlick is sticking up a bit in the back so I wet it mashing it back down again. I get some feedback from my boss (either positive or negative) and I make adjustments to my work habits or product. I hear a different take on things from my wife or children and adjust my thinking or actions to address their concerns. Life is all about adjustments and becoming a bit more wise as a result. 

But each step in the process outlined above is fraught with peril:
  • Am I reading a book by someone who has correctly distilled reality? Do they seek my good? Do I know that for sure? Are they trying to deceive me?
  • Do I really understand what I am reading? Have I correctly ascertained what they are trying to say? Are there subtleties that I am missing?
  • Do I truly recognize what I need to apply to my life? Am I deceiving myself? Do I have enough insight into my life to understand the impact of their thinking?
  • Are the changes that I have made ones that they would have recommended based on what they have communicated? Are the changes a true reflection of their insights?
There are so many rocks in which to dash the bow of my ship. As I seek understanding from various men and women, as I truly look at how I acquire knowledge, I realize that sourcing my perspective in theirs (or a combination of "mine" and "theirs") is not really a foundation at all. This is where my perception of reality becomes rather relative.

It is like the position of a blade of grass as the wind blows. Can I be sure that the grass returns to the exact same spot, unaltered, after the breeze has stopped? Can I truly predict where it will move when the wind blows again? I am sure that someone, with the right amount of instrumentation, equipment and time could, but where would I find that person? Will I find them in time? Can I trust their measurements? Can I be assured that they seek the same knowledge as I? Are they here to build me up? Tear me down? Or are they simply apathetic?

And what of the answers to the questions that keep me up at night? It is one thing to observe the world and to answer the "what" of a particular event. Those questions are hard enough to answer. But we humans do not stop there. We want to know the "why", the "how", and some of us even get into the "who" of the phenomena.

And it is the shifting of the answers to these questions that scares me.

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