I have discovered that I’m not smart enough to plan my life out. At least not in any great detail. There are too many variables and too many unknowns. And too many unexpected things have happened to me in my life (many of the best things were unplanned). I doubt anyone else is smart enough to do it either, but I’m sure there are many who think they’ve done it, while completely discounting luck or the grace of God.
The world is too big, too complex, and too integrated for any one person to know much of anything. And facts are rarely as factual as we think they are, as mistakes can be made, important components can be missing, biases and preferences can creep in and perceptions can be fooled. We know even less about the universe and the nature of reality. Even the entire embodiment of the scientific community after centuries of study has only scratched the surface.
There are a lot of things each of us think we know and we may be right about many of them, but there are few things we can know we know. The problem is we know we know too often, when in reality we only think we know. We have to be very careful about being too sure of anything, given that we are so good at deceiving ourselves. Even our nervous system fools us into thinking that solid objects are really solid, or that the color red is actually red, or that sound actually exists. Science has revealed that all of these things are interpretations of something we actually know nothing about (“probability waves”).
On top of it all, our thoughts are often very distorted. We have to sift through a lot of different thoughts and feelings to discover the nuggets of truth. And we seem to be constantly in flux between over-estimation and under-estimation (we have difficulty evaluating things accurately). Much of what goes on in our mind is not only observations about our worldly environment and personal experience, but also influences from other people. Our thoughts are also influenced by genetic traits we’ve inherited from our parents and ancestors, and perhaps other forces we know nothing about ie; Jung’s “collective unconscious” or a spiritual realm.
Whatever the truth is, we can say for sure that we do experience many conflicting thoughts and we do to some extent have the ability to make prudent choices. Knowing is not just about acquiring information, it’s also about processing that information and using it in the right way. It takes inner guidance lead by reason, patience, and conviction (faith). In other words, it’s not just about information, it’s also about wisdom. Wisdom comes from within — from the soul, in conjunction with personal experience.
The best way to discover the nuggets of truth is to give yourself moments of silence and solitude in order to quiet the busyness of the mind. Often the right answers will arise from the silence in a subtle, but profound way.