The Art of Not Knowing

Lately, I have been exposed to a lot of ‘spoken word’. It was all accidental, and it started with a session I attended at a conference. I chose to attend the session because I liked the name of it. I had no idea that the speaker was a spoken word artist.

I had a vague idea of what spoken word was; rhythmic poems spoken with strong expressions. I always kind of thought of spoken word as speaking a song, a description which I now know does no justice to the art of spoken word.

Last night, I found myself saying my thoughts in my head in a spoken word-esque manner. It was fun to speak rhythmically about my thoughts, even to an audience of one (myself… two, if you count my cat).

I remember thinking to myself that it was so, for lack of a better word, cool. A few days ago, I didn’t know what spoken word was. But now, I do.

There are so many things that exist that I don’t know exist. It is the same for every single person – it is impossible to know everything! Some people shrink away from this fact, because it is scary.

It is scary to think we don’t know everything that is happening around is; it is scary to think that for the amount of time we spend researching and learning and travelling there are still places we will never see, people we will never meet, things we will never do.

While the fact that we will never do everything is finite, the specific things we do are not. We will not see every corner of the Earth, but we have the ability to choose which ones we do see. We will not meet every person in the world, but we can choose which people we spend our time with and who we give the gift of friendship to.

Although the fact that there are things that exist that we know nothing of is scary to some people, it is exciting to others. It was something I had never really thought about, until I quite literally accidentally discovered what spoken word was.

Since yesterday afternoon,when I attended the session, spoken word has been making appearances all over my life. My English teacher showed me a video of an amazing spoken word artist yesterday, and we discussed spoken word in English class today in a different context.

This is one reason that I am not scared that I don’t know everything; because when I do learn something new, it’s pretty cool to suddenly notice it more and to be aware of something you were not previously aware of.

Not knowing everything can bring peace of mind: because how can someone say that no one will ever care about them, when there are billions of people who they haven’t met? How can someone say that they’ll never find a job they love, or something they are passionate about, when there are so many things out there they’ve never even heard of, let alone tried?

Not knowing everything gives us hope that there is an answer out there. We are able to hold out faith that there is a solution and we just haven’t found it yet. Mel Fisher, who led the team that would later find the Atocha shipwreck and its bountiful treasure, woke up every day and said “Today’s the day!”

He knew the shipwreck was out there somewhere, he just didn’t know where. Mel Fisher knew a lot about the Atocha, its sinking, scuba diving and hunting for treasure. What he didn’t know was the exact location of the Atocha, or when he would find it. But he knew that if he woke up every day and believed it would be the day, eventually one day he would be proven correct. And one day, he was.

Like Mel Fisher, we do not know everything that exists. We live in hope that one day we will discover something amazing; and while on this journey, we learn of new things that exist every day. We can choose to be reduced by them, or to become better because of them. What will you choose?

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