How often do you think or utter these three words? Me: all the time. Just today, this lackluster trio has crept into my consciousness and vocabulary more times than I can count. What do I want for breakfast? I don't know.
How should Husband and I spend the morning with the girls? I don't know.
Is it going to rain? I don't know.
Should I stop blogging on weekends? I don't know.
Should we introduce carrots or sweet potatoes to Baby? I don't know.
Will our apartment ever sell in this market? I don't know, but not looking good.
What's a good baby gift? I don't know.
Now, I've always quite liked these words. Why? Because they are simple and honest. Because I've always been a bit suspicious of overly decisive friends. (For instance one of my best friends from law school who declared a mere 24 hours into our first year that she wanted to practice patent law.) So, I guess I've always had an affinity for people who are honest enough to admit that, well, they don't quite know. Because who does?
But there is another side to this. Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead asks: Are These Three Words Ruining Your Life? In this intriguing article, Mead suggests that so many of us are problematically paralyzed, or paralyzing ourselves, because we don't know exactly what to do or what we want to do. Sound familiar? You bet. He says, "If youre not doing something you love or at least like for a living, youre selling yourself short. And I bet the reason why youre not pursuing something better is because you dont know what youd rather do." I know that I have heard countless friends express this very sentiment. I know that I have felt this way many times in my life. In short, Mead urges to plow forward in life, to do before knowing.
White Hot Truth purveyor Danielle LaPorte proffers similar words of wisdom in her recent piece The "I Don't Know" Conspiracy wherein she states that "confusion is a marvelous, magical place" and that we should swap out those three words (which she deems the "Tough spot, painful circumstance, official dilemma. A total jam") for "I'll figure this out." And LaPorte never suggests that the figuring out part will be easy street. No, she says that this "may mean waiting quietly, even for a long time, on the will of heaven. It may mean turning over every single stone without rest until you find the answer or the escape hatch. It may mean praying til you sweat, surveying the experts, or forty days in the desert. But one thing's for sure, if you declare that you'll figure it out, the possibilities are endless."
No, we are not going to exorcise indecision from our life. That's neither possible nor desirable. And there is a vast difference between indecision over the mundane and indecision over the meaningful. But for those of us planners and plotters, part-time or full-time control freaks, it seems that both Mead and LaPorte agree that there is something to be gained by surrendering our instinct to know everything before doing something.
What do you think? Are these three words ruining our lives? Feel free to answer: I don't know. That's what I'm thinking!