Why You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Why You Don’t Have to Know Everything

“Why You Don’t Have to Know Everything” is a revision of an older essay, “The Thrill of Not Knowing.”

 

You’re at the beginning of a rollercoaster ride, going uphill, toward the highest point of the track. Higher and higher, slowly, building anticipation. A couple of things are happening. Your palms start sweating, the heart beats faster, and your mind debates itself, “Why in the world did I do this? Get me out of here! But I can’t get off..” or “Ok, it’s gonna happen soon, take a deep breath, be ready…” Finally, you reach the apex, where your stress (or thrill) also peaks. As the rollercoaster slowly turns downward, you see how high you are for a split second, how steep the downhill slope is, and you gulp because there’s no turning back.

 

The Unknown, whatever it is that we can’t know, plan or anticipate, can incite intense reactions to the limited, non-omniscient human mind. It can make you fearful and anxious, overwhelmingly so in some cases. It can cause nervous breakdown and real physical ailments if not handled properly, along with discontentment and anger. What will my life be? What am I supposed to do, who am I supposed to be in this life? How will this job, this relationship, this new house turn out? What is my calling in life? How does a fulfilled life look like? Am I ever going to be successful?

 

At one point or another, we feel this restlessness in our soul. Something like a signal that there are things we have yet to do, places we have yet to see, life we have yet to experience.

 

But just like a rollercoaster ride, the fear of the Unknown does not make up the entire experience. There is another aspect of the story that, in actuality, is the thing that makes people want to go on rollercoaster rides in the first place – thrill. For someone who happens to love rollercoasters, the thrill of the experience overtakes the fear and anxiety during that uphill part.

 

Not knowing about something, about life, can be a thrilling experience. I’m not talking about being blissfully ignorant. Quite the opposite. I’m talking about being curious and enjoying the process of unveiling whatever it is that lies between me and that thing beyond the veil. Not knowing is what makes learning such an enjoyable process, a process by which one goes from not knowing to knowing. And this is fun. It is so much fun that it’s hard to imagine knowing everything. A life without mystery, how dull would that be?

 

Often we think that once we know, if only we know this one thing, we would finally have peace. We’ll finally be at a state of rest, not anxious or worried about what will happen. But the truth is that we’ll only find another thing to fret about. We would find out that knowing that one thing is not enough, and anxiety takes over again.

 

Why live this way? Why not enjoy the process and let go of the micro plans?

 

 

In the realm of Christianity, a special case of this phenomenon is something like this: What is God’s will for my life? What is my purpose on earth? Sometimes the questions come with anger and discontentment, sometimes with anxiety and restlessness, or sometimes with a certain sobriety, realizing the import of the answer to those questions.

 

The question that I would ask, though, is What would you do with the answer? What kind of answer are you looking for? Are you expecting black ink on white paper stating, This is what you will do? Would you rather know the fact, or would you rather discover it?

 

I’m inclined to choose discovery over being given a statement of fact. I’d rather discover what I will be in 10 years, rather than being told by a hypothetical time traveler from the future that in 10 years, I’ll be doing this and that. But part of choosing discovery–not that it’s much of a choice–is the not knowing part. You only find out a little bit at a time, and I’d suggest that this is the more preferable and exciting way.

 

My favorite book Education has this quote:

 

When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. “God created man in His own image” and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image—the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible universe—the “wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge”—invited man’s study.

 

The radical idea being proposed here is that in a state of perfection–a world without sin and suffering–Adam was still meant to grow and discover. In a way, he too was meant to discover God’s will for his life and existence. The more he were to live, the more he would find out the capacity embedded in his being as well as the mysteries of the world he was placed in.

 

In other words, life has always been mysterious, inwardly and outwardly, from way back when, to now, to eternity. Discovery is a life essential, and it would be wise to know how to live peacefully with it.

 

Another quote in the book says:

 

Heaven is a school; its field of study, the universe; its teacher, the Infinite One. A branch of this school was established in Eden; and, the plan of redemption accomplished, education will again be taken up in the Eden school. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

 

Because we do not know all things, we have the capacity to be marveled and blown away. Not knowing is really our capacity to be surprised. And that thrill is a gift of life.

 

When we don’t know certain details of our life’s purpose, when we don’t understand why we’re going through certain things, we don’t have to be upset or anxious. At least, don’t cling to it. Rather, have trust. Trust in the process, trust in God and His character. Let go of the micro plans and let yourself be swayed and moved a little by life, by the occasions that need your help, and by other things outside of your plans.

 

Love the journey. Love the discovery. And enjoy the thrill of not knowing everything.

 

 

Where Do Wisdom Teeth Go After They Die?

Where Do Wisdom Teeth Go After They Die?

Picture above: Taken right after my surgery.

 

Where do wisdom teeth—or all teeth—go after they die (that is, after they’re no longer attached to a living being? I was thinking about wisdom teeth disposal last night while pep-talking myself for my extraction today. (Is this weird?)

 

Because, you know, when you go to the doctor to get them out, you then go out free and wisdom-teeth-less, but what happens to the teeth? Somebody has to do something to them.

 

Does the tooth fairy have a teeth holding area somewhere (creepy)? Does she turn them to gold, sells them for cash to distribute? Or does she defy conservation of mass and turn teeth to nothing or create cash out of nothing? In any case, she probably doesn’t work for me since I’m Indonesian. I had never heard of her before I moved to the US. What a strange thing to be a fairy for.

 

I know if a kid looses a tooth at home you can just dispose it, but what about a dental practice? Can they just dump a bunch of random pulled-out teeth to the garbage can? Do they then go to a landfill, in which case somewhere in the world there’s a bag of teeth, mine next to Bob’s and others’, just lying around…forever?

 

So while waiting for my appointment I asked the front desk, “I have a weird question. How do you dispose teeth from here?”

 

“Do you want to keep them?”

 

“No. Just curious.”

 

She said they keep them in a box, which an outside company takes and disposes weekly.

 

“What do they do to them? Incinerate?”

 

She didn’t know. Now I got her curious too.

 

So while my oral surgeon and his 2 assistants were prepping me for sedation, I asked him the same question.

 

“Strange as it may seem, we can actually just throw them out in the trash.”

 

“Really? They just go to the landfill? What about the bio waste material company?”

 

“The regulation says that that’s only necessary when the teeth are soaked in blood. So even if my gloves have blood on them, I can still just throw them away.”

 

Sedatives administered.

 

“And then there’s the issue of letting patients take home their tooth. OSHA here requires me to protect the safety of my employees. But once the patients take their teeth home, they’re on their own. I wouldn’t write the law this way myself. What’s the difference between little blood and a lot of blood?”

 

“Interesting.”

 

“We won’t allow them take their teeth if they have some kind of disease…[I’ve lost medical details lost here]”

 

And then I was out.

 

This was written at 4 hours and 7 hours after my wisdom teeth removal. There was a nap before, during, and after the writing of this post.

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