It’s okay not to know

Unknown LouieI often feel like I am on my own little island in life. For the most part I am pretty content with that – but every now and then I get visitors, heck let’s call a spade a spade, intruders. The problem with said intruders is that they don’t realise my sanctuary has its very own manifesto, a particular part of which they find difficult to comprehend: the sentiment being It’s ok not to know”.

From a young age we are raised to learn and recite answers, regurgitate facts and tick the right boxes, but what about the questions that have no definite answers?

Not knowing can make us uncomfortable, feel stupid and whilst asking questions is okay, it’s only deemed acceptable when they are not stupid ones. I, on the other hand, am of the opinion there are no stupid questions in this world, simply because I think just about anything is possible. Unfortunately, this fear of admitting we don’t know can lead us to scramble for answers to justify our stance, something that is sadly all too common in the world of the paranormal, and a bandwagon on which I myself once sat.

I would like to clarify that I believe that theories and answers should not be confused. Theories are how we work things out and expand ideas. They allow us to explore concepts which may end up being correct, or they may not:  most likely though we shall never actually know. Answers should be defined as what we know to be true, but for some reason the line between answers and theories often seems to get blurred when talking about paranormal phenomena.

In the right circumstance answers are defined and based on fact, but in the wrong circumstances they create dead ends, especially when given as explanations for otherwise unexplainable things. As I said, I was once on that bandwagon. For example, in the past if someone was to ask me what a ghost is, I would have simply replied they are a dead person. Now this is not a particularly unusual answer, and one that most people when asked would give – in fact it is what the official dictionary defines them as. It wasn’t, however, until a friend recommended that I read John Keel’s Mothman Prophecies, that I even thought to question: are ghosts actually dead people? I am not going to lie, the concept that they might actually be something else blew my mind and took many of my other long-held beliefs with it.

What I found most surprising was that far from being uncomfortable with having all my long-held beliefs and explanations blown to smithereens, I felt strangely liberated. For so long I had believed that I had to have fully researched and rational explanations for everything when dealing with the aforementioned intruders. But even in the past, when I had these ‘answers’ it never ended well, as intruders have a tendency to mock and belittle the merest mention of anything paranormal, invariably making it a ‘them and us’ situation, with each trying to outwit the other until an intellectual victory is declared. But isn’t that missing the point?

“The wise man is one who knows what he does not know”

Lao Tzu

The problem with those that think they have all the answers is that they often mistake not knowing for a lack of knowledge on the subject or confidence in one’s convictions. I, however, actually believe it’s brave and liberating admitting that you don’t know, as it means you realise and acknowledge how much there is still to be discovered and explored. It also opens us up to possibilities that would otherwise be missed if we had committed ourselves to one particular answer and way of thinking. Not knowing is interesting, it’s exciting, and it means you are open to listening and learning from others and experiences and don’t just simply repeat what you already know. And maybe, just maybe, one day there will be things I will finally be able to answer. But if I can’t, well that’s ok too as I am happy to live out my days on the Isle of ‘I don’t know’.

Ps. You are welcome to visit, but please don’t come looking for the answers, although I do have an old bandwagon looking for a home.  

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