Warning PG 13 or Adult rated article. Proceed at your own risk of indignance and upset.
Would I exchange a lifetime of cleverness for a moment’s bewilderment?
13th Century Sufi Poet
As far as you and I are concerned this quote is written by aliens.
As a leader, a parent, a teacher, a person – you must appear to know. The world and you are co-conspirators in this life-sucking and quiet understanding.
Consider that a debilitating amount of your time is spent trying not to look stupid.
We are hired to know, we are paid to know, we are expected to know, and worse – we expect ourselves to know. Knowing has become a prison for us.
Within this paradigm, our freedom and full range of expression has died.
Vulnerability, real and enduring curiosity, being able to stand in the unknown with pure wonder, are no longer readily available to us. Instead we are a well put together and sharp dressed façade who looks like we’ve got it all handled.
Every morning we and everyone else undergo this ridiculous pleasantry, “How are you?” “Fine, good. How are you?” “Good.” No struggling relationship on your part… no stressed out parenting, no indication that you hate your boss, or that you’re barely surviving your job, or the fact that you can’t survive another meeting, etc… Oh no, you’re “fine”.
And given how apparently perfect things are, it’s our job to get everyone else handled. Guide the way, be decisive, and say the right things.
Without knowing it, you are a good looking corpse whose underlying driver in life is to survive situations and other people by not looking stupid. And your two primary strategies are to pretend or avoid speaking… That’s the nice way to say it, I’d prefer to say your strategies are to lie, shut up and lay low.
Don’t take my word for it – look. Just look at how much you pretend with others. Particularly when it comes to knowing things.
How’s that going for you? What’s it like pretending to know things you don’t know or pretending to understand things you don’t understand? What’s it like to be quietly on guard for being found out? Now, of course you don’t relate to yourself as a fraud. You relate to yourself as a wonderfully self-aware and nice person who is a truth telling machine! In fact, your authenticity is limitless and if you ever do pretend and lie it’s always for a good reason.
If I only knew what it’s like where you are.
Can you see that this is everyone’s little story?!
Can you see that everyone is a protagonist in their own martyrish screenplay where pretending is a staple for their survival?
None of what I am saying lives in the foreground of our thinking. It is all background stuff. If you can get over your indignance about what I just wrote, you will discover that until I pointed it out, pretending was not on your mind. You’ll have to do a little digging to get a real glimpse of what I am saying. And of course your ego or identity won’t want to acknowledge it.
What I am saying is damn arrogant and kinda pokey!
What if we stopped winning the ‘not look stupid game’?
What if we surrendered to not knowing? We could simply start to say the words, “I don’t know.”
Try it for a day and see what emerges. Likely, the freedom that you experience will permanently start to erode your need to ‘not look stupid’. Let us know how that little experiment goes for you on Twitter or Facebook.