Do you fly through life on the wings of openness and adventure? Or have your fears gotten the best of you, restricting your choices and limiting your options? When Estelle Frankel, confessed Olympic Gold Medalist in the art of worrying, asked me to review The Wisdom of Not Knowing, I agreed without hesitation. Over the years my worries have shut me down and closed me off until I’m just a shell of what I was. And that’s not how I want to live.
The Wisdom of Not Knowing takes us on a journey into the unknown, that place where fear resides. Fear is a necessary device meant to protect us from harm. But it gets in the way when we become overprotective and too restrictive. When we’re young we tend to be curious, wondering how and why the world operates as it does. We yearn to explore, to investigate, to seek and discover. It doesn’t matter if we have to climb through muck or get wet and cold or examine strange surroundings and people. Mystery is exciting! But as we age, we often become less resilient and more comfort prone. We’re more apt to relish the soft bed at home, the familiar route to work, the favorite meal at the local restaurant than trying something new, because, well, it may not work out. And the more we exercise that caution, the more we stop ourselves from really living.
To free ourselves we have to break the bonds of security and certainty and dive into that which we ultimately resist—uncertainty. “Freedom requires an ability to bear uncertainty, to not know what is going to happen next, and to trust in an unfolding journey.” That trust, that being able to plunge into the darkness and not know, is the key to a deeper, more meaningful life. Complete with wonderful allegories and great insight into Judaic studies (including the Torah and Kabbalah), The Wisdom of Not Knowing serves as our teacher and guide.
In the end, think of the Cowardly Lion and his famous “c-c-courage”. Taking those small steps. Standing strong in the face of adversity, maybe with aggression, maybe with quiet determination. Facing the unknown IS scary. But with mindfulness and openness and the exercises after each chapter, Frankel gives us numerous ways to confront our fears and embrace our uncertainties with heart and fortitude.
[Originally published in the Conscious Life Journal, March 2018]