Monday, November 20, 2017

The Song Middle-Age is Teaching Me

IDK. It’s just “text-talk”, but I’m realizing more and more that I. Don’t. Know.

And I can embrace that, rather than being afraid of not knowing—perhaps for the first time in my life.

Seriously, what are my choices? Most of my biggest losses and sweetest gains in life have been things that, just twenty-four hours before experiencing them, I would have said of them, I don’t know about that.

For years my identity was wrapped up in knowing. I accumulated hundreds of useful and useless facts.
  • Methuselah lived for 969 years.
  • Normal female hemoglobin is12.0-16.0
  • The orientation of a QWERTY keyboard
  • How to say “turn the light off” in German
  • My doctor’s NPI number and DEA number
  • The phone numbers to half of the pharmacies in the Columbia area
I can remember old telephone numbers and the names of many professional NFL players. Why? One helps me get my groceries cheaper at BI-LO and the other keeps me straight in Fantasy Football.

And because I loved being "the person who knows the answer”. I thrived on being able to add something to any conversation I happened upon, and I was pleased when someone sought out my help with a question or a problem they needed some information for.

While I love surprises, nothing would set me on my heels faster than a question for which I didn’t know the answer. Those kinds of surprises were not fun—knowledge was my comfort zone.

But lately I’m embracing the I Don’t Know in life, because what I don’t know is both an opportunity for me to learn and an opportunity for someone else to shine. Not knowing isn’t scary—in fact, I’m learning to love the idea of never knowing!
  •  Why do some people hate delicious foods and wines?  IDK
  • How do I get my hydrangea to bloom?  IDK
  • Why do I cry when I’m happy?  IDK
  • What is the secret to smooth screen protector installation?  IDK
  • How did God come up with the idea of the giraffe?  IDK
  • What was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”?  IDK
And then there are the BIG life mysteries…
  • How will it feel to become a Grandma?
  • What will retirement be like?
  • Will I ever get my Bachelor’s Degree?
  • How many days, weeks, years do I have left on Earth?
  • How will I handle it when I start forgetting more than I remember?

I Don’t Know. And chasing that knowledge has no purpose. Some things must be experienced to be known—like falling in love or becoming a parent—you can know them and you can try to explain them, but you can never know them for someone else.

I’m not knocking knowledge—I LOVE knowledge! I’m just not going to measure Me by that ruler anymore. Middle-age has taught me that the ruler of knowledge can never determine the measure of a life. It can never replace loving well. It can never express living in the moment.

Knowing everything takes the surprise out of life and the adventure out of the human soul. I used to think knowledge took the fear out of life, but I was so wrong! Knowing everything that might happen, or will happen, can make us so cautious that we forget how essential serendipity is in a life well lived.

So…I will work hard and plan and learn. But I will also embrace living in the moment, changing my plans, and trying something new.

I will embrace singing the song of aging; I will enjoy the refrain of I Don’t Know as it instructs my soul and broadens my horizons. Because the only question I never want to answer with I Don’t Know is, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”


  1. I'm glad you are embracing IDK! Takes the pressure off of me to find one thing I might know that you don't. I'd much rather learn together! You are amazing! I love this post!