I imagine that since the dawn of time, wise and haggardly graying men and women have said to the young (in crackling old-people type voices), “The older I get…the less I know”. I’m convinced that there might even be cave paintings somewhere dating back to the days of Cro-Magnon depicting this concept. The pictures likely confusingly contain images of buffalo and hunters wielding spears, but the message is undeniable.
I, as we all did, grew up hearing this humble message. It didn’t use to make sense to me, being the family ‘know-it-all’. Now, as I watch each year whip past me, I’ve found that I have a growing and deepening awareness that there’s little I understand about this enormously crazy thing called ‘life’ and even less, by the day, that I understand about God. One might surmise that coming to this realization could have the capacity to completely devastate me; spiraling me into a vast depression over a loss of (perceived) control. But, as it turns out Weezer was right; unraveling my tightly knit sweater of beliefs has been more a journey towards freedom (just not in the naked sense, and not so much lying on the floor…well, maybe a little). For all those who are lost with the reference to sweaters, lying and the floor and unraveling, here’s a link.
I really did believe I knew a great many things. Through all those years of being staunchly convinced that I understood the mysteries of life, I was not just nauseating company (I imagine), but I was also forcing and restricting my understanding of those things into an organized little box; a tiny and boundary laden box. In deciding that I understood, I was arrogantly unaware that I was limiting my experience and shrinking my God.
I’ve come to understand that revelation pours from struggle and my current struggle has birthed an essential epiphany. All those great spiritual one-liners, those organized answers and solutions are actually more painful than helpful. I'm chief barer of guilt! I absolutely dispensed those “charming” spiritual nuggets, like offering a swift shot of something strong as I attempted to dull the ache others felt, of which I couldn’t comprehend. In the face of true life trauma (not my own), I felt helpless, worthless and wordless. Now all those quick Christian answers I grew up spouting have entirely crumbled because God can’t be effortlessly summed up in a few syrupy words and neither can the remedy for our wounds.
These revelations are rather elementary; I’d say cave-lady (Cro-Magnon) level. It feels laughable that it’s taken me so much of my life to possess this layer of understanding. But as each misjudgment is peeled away, I feel a greater capacity, than I had yesterday, to love and empathize with the struggles of other. And here's where I break out my quaking vibrato voice (to sound exceedingly old and wise) and proclaim with fervor that, the older I get, the less I know, and it's truly a freer place to live from.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.