I’ve watched two films recently that have had me reflecting upon the issue of our being able to “know.” In the sci-fi film “Dark Matter” one character says to another character who has complete amnesia, “You said you wanted to change, to become better than what you were before, but how can you take a different path if you don’t even know how you got there in the first place? If you don’t remember, you’re going to end up making the same mistakes all over again!” In this film it struck me that remembering is a way of knowing something, of bringing something forward into consciousness. In the second film “The Farewell Party” a victim of Alzheimer’s says to the camera, “Soon I won’t know my name. I’m disappearing. I won’t be myself anymore.” As in the first film the issue is that of remembering, or more accurately… of not being able to remember. It takes no great leap of imagination to feel the terror at the heart of this victim’s statement!
And yet, how much of our time has been spent… is being spent… on the pursuit of obliviousness? We embrace drugs and alcohol because, at that moment, it feels so good to “not know.” We max out our credit cards in order to not know ourselves as being one of those who doesn’t have what everyone else is running after. We lie to ourselves in order to not know the truth about the less than noble desires of our heart. We act as if the abilities that we currently possess will always be there… until the day comes when a car accident takes away our ability to walk, an illness such as Alzheimer’s takes “knowing” away from us, or the cruel words that my heart gave birth to takes away a relationship. Choices have consequences and take us somewhere. On some level we all know this. But we presume that we will always be the one doing the choosing, and yet sometimes Life takes that ability away from us. Do we really have time to be running away from what we need to know?
When people come to me for counseling they often recite a long list of all of the things that are wrong in their life, and end by stating that it is all just too much to deal with it. The thing is that we don’t have to deal with all of it at the same time! Just take one aspect or issue and begin to deal with that one. As a result of real growth in any part of our heart all of the other issues shift and often become healed as a result. For example, we can start with the issue of “I’ll get to it tomorrow…,” which is the issue of procrastination, which is the issue of not wanting to deal with some reality. How many times has putting off something actually paid off for us? When we come to accept that the option of “I’ll do it tomorrow” has rarely produced anything better in our life than more chaos, we will suddenly find within our heart the desire to attend to what we want to avoid, and in that desire originates the ability to change. That desire… is what knowing is about.
If we don’t like who and how we are right now maybe we should look at what we choose to not-know… while we have still the ability to do so.