It was H.P. Lovecraft who encapsulated the concept of uncertainty the best: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” How many of us can relate to that quote? Some of us spend our entire lives dreading the unknown. As a result, we end up trapped in a circular torment of worry and anxiety. Instead of fearing the unknown, we need to tackle it head on and embrace it, because in the end, the unknown is all we’ve got.
When you sit down and look around you, what you are seeing is the tangible world, which is anything you can see and feel. There are numerous philosophical and theological theories on the nature of existence and it is truly in my nature to want to question those things. Who doesn’t want to know why we’re here and who created us? A fundamental part of the human condition is our desire to seek out answers and discover patterns. This can be exemplified by the invention of the scientific method, mathematics, and the numerous religions that have come and gone for centuries. Humans are like a super computer, constantly analyzing data for patterns so they can regurgitate results.
It’s a fundamental byproduct of our evolutionary journey from ape to a slightly more intelligent ape typing away at the computer. Indeed, it is ironic that the vary part of us that was engineered to keep us alive as a species can destroy us as an individual. We’re intelligent beings, which is a double-edged sword. With knowledge comes the thirst for more knowledge because knowledge is power. If we know something for a fact, then we believe that there is something that can be done about it. However, this thirst for knowledge is a thirst that will never be quenched.
I used to be quite the worrier. It could be about something as little as people thinking that my laugh is annoying or something big like what if my neighbors think I’m a Russian agent? One of those two is true.
What I discovered was that not only were most of my worries based on nothing, but in the end, none of it made any difference. What if my car gets a flat tire on the way to work? What if I lose my job? What if we’re all living in a simulation? What if I suddenly grew a third testicle? What was going to happen was going to happen and I was exerting far more energy than was necessary worrying about things I had no control over.
With this new found sense of enlightenment, I found myself to be a far less cynical person and far happier. I now take pleasure in the moment, knowing that this moment will just lead to the next and then the next after that. I’m on a journey like everybody else on this rock falling through space and it’s going to be filled with its ups and downs. I could wake up tomorrow morning a millionaire or have a third testicle growing it’s own micropenis (did I mention I’ve been exposed to a tiny amount of radiation?)
As Socrates so eloquently stated, “The one thing I know, is that I know nothing,” we know nothing with any amount of certainty. His statement is, of course, paradoxical, but I don’t believe we live in such an elegant universe and perhaps the only true answers are paradoxical in nature. Nobody is entirely sure why we have this deep seeded desire to find the answers to all and we may never know. It’s poetic irony to think that man, in his infinite wisdom, may never know the answer to why we ask the question “why?”.