James Thurber said “It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.” As a know-it-all perfectionist, this is a piece of spiritual wisdom that I came to only recently.
We like to know the answers. Knowing answers helps us maintain our illusion of control. What’s the weather going to be tomorrow? High of 72. Well, really, who knows? I think weather forecasts are probably the best example of how “knowing” the answers is an illusion. Sure, we have computer models and specialists who analyze radar reports, but in reality, the weather is often quite different from the predictions. Still, we all want to know. If we know the weather, we can plan our clothing, plan our activities, control our day.
Sadly, we are not in control of very much in this world. Self-control is our biggest arena, and, as anyone who has ever yelled at another driver knows, we aren’t always good at that. Once we let go of this illusion of control, we can start to find peace. We can focus on what we do actually control (our actions, our words, our thoughts), and release what we don’t control (every other person in the world, traffic, mishaps, and yes, weather).
To bring it back around: knowing answers gives an illusion of control that gets in the way of how we live. If instead we choose to ask questions, we will make much more progress in our lives. This is how I try to live: by asking questions rather than memorizing answers. Besides, for most questions, there’s always Google!