I Don't Know

Are you afraid of these words? Do you hesitate to say them? Silently or out loud to yourself? Or to others?

Me too. Sometimes.

It’s almost as if it’s a weakness. This not knowing. Not knowing what to do. How to move forward. Not knowing/having a solution to something. Not knowing where you want to go. How to do something. Our egos get a little weird at the mention of those three words. I don’t know.

Recently, it was the day of my daughter’s birthday and I still didn’t know what to get her. I wanted to make it special in some way because it was a birthday ending in zero. We’ve made those birthdays up to be important.

I was sitting in the I Don’t Know space but it didn’t feel very spacious. It was packed with thought, including worry. What if I didn’t come up with anything by the time she came home for Thanksgiving?

My method…

Think hard and think some more. Nothing.  Google search for ideas. Nothing. Think again. Nothing.  Ask other daughter. Something, but no, not it.  Think. Rehash previous ideas I didn’t like. More nothing.  Errr figure this out. Sigh.

And then….

I was in the parking lot of the grocery store.  I had temporarily forgotten my search for the ideal milestone birthday idea. AND, in came something new. An insight, straight from the divine creative soup in which we float.  It actually came with sort of an energetic whoosh. Suddenly the I Don’t Know space was filled with something shiny and fresh. A brand new idea. The one.

I had three days to complete the brilliant birthday project.

Back to the I Don’t Know space. I didn’t know how I would get it done in such a short amount of time. I didn’t even know what most of the items would be.  But I knew I would put one foot in front of the other and figure it out as I went along.

Not knowing turned out to be my friend. It seemed to unleash a fresh creative flow.  Little by little, the ideas trickled in. One idea seemed to open the way for the next one. Within three days I had everything I wanted to create the special assortment of gifts.

Fast forward or rewind to something “serious”. What about when I don’t know what to do about something that looks like a really big problem? My son struggles with a health issue that prevents him from living life to the fullest. It is cyclical, severe and intense. Over the years, we have found various remedies that help for awhile. Until they don’t.

Recently, his doctor was at a loss. We were at the end of the road.  It appeared there was nothing left to do. No more options.

I didn’t know what to do either. Where to look. Who to talk to.

On the inside, I shouted “I don’t know. I REALLY don’t know.”

Not knowing is not where I wanted to be. Scary thoughts floated in tricking me into feeling discouraged and fearful.

Until I saw something.

I don’t know might actually be useful. It’s difficult to get through to someone who already thinks they know everything. What if I Don’t Know actually makes space?

The space is not filled up with what I already know. Or what I think I already know. It is filled with what? Essentially nothing. From this place, I noticed I was open and willing to hear something new.

And then….

I was given a lead by someone who has been in my son’s life for twenty years. She went out of her way  to help. And by following a few breadcrumbs, she got the name of a doctor with expertise in my son’s issue.

Being open and willing, I took this lead and ran with it.

Two weeks later my husband and I found ourselves on a two hour Skype call with a doctor across the country. He came up with nine new potential solutions, some that could be combined with each other to make even more. We now have a few years worth of options from which to pick and choose.

Out of nothing left to do came a long list of options.  One doctor didn’t know. But the next one did. I didn’t know. And then I did.

I’m starting to see something about not knowing. It creates space. And that space is available for possibility. It is fertile ground for new ideas, insights, and solutions to come through. An infinite well.

So let’s hear it for I don’t know.

Let’s shout it out and then get ready for the rain to come down. Maybe one drop at a time. Or possibly a downpour. Within that rain might be something fresh and new.  A next step. An idea. Something to see, know, or do.

I Don’t Know. Kinda like the ring of those words now.

gayle nobel