Pretending you know
Have you ever seen a couple of months old baby up close?
If you have, you must have noticed how they look at the world around them. With complete awe, and as if they have no clue about what’s going on, what all this is.
The inadequacy, and awkwardness of their every action is proof of a level of freedom, purity and authenticity that we, adults could only dream of.
What changes as we grow up? How do we lose that new born awe and wonder? How do we lose that pure authenticity to be who we are in the process of growing up? What is it in growing up that takes that freedom away?
On the surface, it seems, the baby is free to do whatever it wants to as dictated by instinct. That’s true, but what’s more important is that the baby is free to not know how it got here, what’s going on here and what comes next. The baby is interested in all there is to know, but it doesn’t NEED to know anything. It’s just fine being interested, wondering, taking it all in, just being.
The baby is not expected to know all the answers, unlike adults are. And who is it that expects us to know all the answers? It’s us, it’s me, it’s you. Ever one of us expects themselves and everyone else to have the answers. That’s pretty much our benchmark of adulthood: we ought to know.
Sure, as adults, we know a lot more about the world around us than babies do. But if you look at the really fundamental questions, like who am I, what is all this, how did it all start and how does it all end? – your capacity to answer those questions equals a baby’s: zero.
You know exactly as much about the fundamentals of this existence as a baby does.
And what you learn growing up, all the information that helps you live day to day, brings you no closer to your fundamental questions.
Science will have a go at it. But the big bang theory (all the matter of the universe cumulated in a single point and then it exploded) is just another way of saying: we don’t know.
Perhaps quantum physics will provide the answers one day. Please, surprise me.
If you are really honest, you’ll admit that you don’t have a clue about how you got here, what powers influence your destiny and how the world really works. You have ideas, you can tell stories, you can even believe in them. But if you are honest, you’ll admit that you don’t have a clue. And all the things you learned in your adult life and all the thousands of years of accumulated knowledge in history doesn’t change a thing.
The desire to know the world through the intellect is a built in feature of the human machine, no doubt. But it’s a desire never to be fulfilled, because the intellect is not the faculty of the human that can know those kinds of answers.
The conventional way of dealing with that predicament is to pretend that you know. It’s easy. All you have to do is pick a prefabricated story by religion or an unprovable hypothesis by science and explain those questions away with the ease of telling a fairy tale. Or even better, you can pretend to not know about the questions at all, so you end up pretending you know all there is to know.
Pretending, can be an efficient strategy for developing high levels of confidence, a sense of purpose and direction in life. If you are good enough at pretending, it can make you very attractive. People will follow you and will want to give you their money.
There is that. And then there is admitting that you know fuck all.
Admitting that the combined intellectual product of humanity can’t explain the fundamentals of this existence.
Admitting that you just keep finding yourself in this experience moment after moment for no good reason.
Admitting that, from the bottom of your heart, might just give you a sense of relief. As if, the need to know, was not so grueling anymore. As if, you could look at the world like a baby does: taking it all in, not needing to make sense of it all. Just living it and being it.
Admitting that can be scary to yourself and others around you.
But the relief of not needing to know anymore, and not needing others to believe that you know, transforms you. That relief gives you true freedom to be who you really are, regardless of the consequences.
Just like a baby.