Cutting Both Ways

NowThere are things that we know and things that we do not know. The troubles of humanity seem to revolve around the problem of confusing the two.

What We Know

We tend to be biased toward what we know. What we know, what we have learned, these things give us a definition of the world and people around us. This is how we learn to judge things; it’s our mind being ‘efficient’ in allowing us not to be overwhelmed by the world. It’s about creating a world that we know so that we can comfortably work within it.

It’s a way of mitigating risk.

What We Don’t Know

Curiosity leads us to find out what we don’t know based on understanding that we don’t know it. Few wish to deal with unknowns – in a world largely built on our understanding of what we do know, we balk at what we don’t. Even if we don’t know it, we expect someone else to know it and we even pay us to teach us what they know – but there’s an implicit error in what we know because it is largely a broad brush that paints over what we don’t know. It’s a scary thing for people sometimes.

But What Do We Know?

See, here’s the rub. We believe we know what we do only because it hasn’t been proven to be different. And what do we know? We know what we experience. Everything else is hearsay, be it in a book or something someone else tells you – regardless of how much you trust them, because, really, trust is about knowing and not knowing.

Trust is about believing someone based on previous experience. Trust is about believing that someone will act a certain way under certain circumstances. If anything, Life probably has shown anyone that has survived the first 10 years of life that trust is fickle because people are fickle because… people confuse what they know and what they don’t know.

A broken promise to a child isn’t something the child forgets easily, but it’s an easy mistake if the promise was made on expectations proven wrong. “I will be there” doesn’t take into account the last minute thing that drags you away.

What we know is an illusion of permanence. It’s a snapshot of how we believe things to be, and anyone who has survived more than 2 decades on the planet will have experienced the turmoil of the way things are versus the way they thought things were. Whether they understand it or not isn’t important until it becomes important to them.

Where knowledge is power, not acknowledging lack of knowledge – lack of certainty – is the other edge of that sword.

Precious Precarity

Nothing is ever truly complete because everything changes. While we’re not looking and still hold a snapshot of our former selves in our minds, we change – we’re almost never who we carry in our own mind.

We know this at the beach, when we stand and watch the sun rise at the intersection of boundaries of earth, sea and wind – and light. The sand shifts beneath our feet as the water laps at our toes, as we sink the wind blows through our hair. The light of the sun comes to our viewpoint through the globe prism of Earth’s atmosphere, cascading our eyes with a rainbow of reflected colors off of our surroundings.

We only see what isn’t absorbed, the colors we see the shadow of the visual spectrum that wasn’t.

Where the water line falls is determined by the tides, and the tides are combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth. And even as the Moon rotates around the Earth rotates around the Sun… our Sun hurtles toward Lambda Herculis at 20 km/s. 12 miles per second.

We’re dragging along with it with the rest of the Solar System even as Lambda Hercules itself rotates around the center of the galaxy that we, in the limitations of our languages, call “ours”.

As if happening to be in something gives one ownership. Think of that the next time you’re in a bad situation.

Most people don’t know all of this, and they don’t care. They just see the beauty of it – and they will talk about the beauty of a sunrise as if it’s a constant when it isn’t. It’s a precious precarity every morning of clouds, winds, dust and tides. It’s a cluster of precarity, a moving intersection in the Universe – however small those changes are.

And when I take a picture of all of this, people like that without knowing any of that.

It boggles me, like so many other things that people dismiss. The precious precarities that surround us, the wonderful beauty of improbability dancing through the Universe, ourselves looking in the mirror of our existence, wanting to be constant yet decidedly finite as we are.