So I had this amazing realization the other day: the world, this great big beautiful mix of land and water and air that we all inhabit, actually keeps on keepin’ on whether I am right or wrong. And what’s more, it does not in fact explode or implode or suffer any other form of mass destruction if I don’t know something. New flash, I know. But here’s the thing. I really don’t like being wrong. It’s not so much that I always have to be right, but I really don’t like realizing I’m wrong about something. It feels…uncomfortable. Because in my mind, I’m supposed to know everything, right? Which leads to the next realization – there are things that I don’t know. There’s actually quite a lot that I don’t know. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to convince myself that I’m supposed to, and if I don’t, I’ve failed somehow. At what? I’m not quite sure. Being human?
But here’s the flaw in this thinking – ok, maybe there a few – being human actually entails not knowing. Because that’s how we grow, that’s how we evolve.
When you cut yourself, your body jumps into action and repairs that wound with a whole arsenal of things I’m not even going to pretend to know. The point is, after that repair, that patch of skin is actually stronger than it was before the wound. See where I’m going here? In our quest of perfection, or to not project, in my quest for perfection, I haven’t typically left a lot of room for myself to be wrong. And one of the problems with that is that when we’re wrong about something and we acknowledge it, we are often also given an opportunity to make repair, and through that repair we can strengthen what is there. So, to not allow for space for that, also means to not allow space for repair and strengthening.
So, in listening to this mind-blowing realization, I am playing with curiosity. I am learning to digest the fact that not knowing something doesn’t make me less of a person, nor does it make me bad or stupid. It simply means that I haven’t discovered something new just yet. And it’s a chance for me to play with curiosity.
In my work, while I have a great expanse of knowledge about the human body – it’s anatomy and functions – when a client presents an issue, the best I can do is use the tools that I have to hypothesize. In actuality, I don’t know anything about what is happening for them. I can’t. I’m not inside their body. I can’t really know what’s going on. But I can have curiosity and an openness to exploring that. I am in fact a much better healthcare provider when I surrender this idea that I know what’s going on and embrace whatever is in front of me with curiosity. In large part, because it makes me far more open to what may surface. It also means allowing myself to not be perfect. Gulp.
In playing with this further, though, I think perhaps the most enlightened being are in fact not “perfect” but rather fully embrace the imperfections that are inherent in existing in this world – and by embracing them they are able to transcend them.
And while I in no way can claim enlightenment, I would like to offer you this piece that has come from these earth shattering realizations and the subsequent self-reflection and work I have been doing: all of our imperfections are simply opportunities. Opportunities for radical acceptance, opportunities for growth, opportunities for repair, and maybe even opportunities to learn something we didn’t already know. They present themselves to us everyday and everyday we are given the opportunity to get a little bit uncomfortable for the sake of our own growth and evolution.