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Embracing the peace of not knowing

There is no need to know everything. Getting to know the Divine and my own spirit is also important. The work of a lifetime, in fact.
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I saw an Instagram Reel post the other day that was both funny and profound. The woman in the video says: “I will no longer be accepting information at this time. I officially know too much. I am at my limit. Yes, you may be asking yourself, “but you’re so young”? But guess what? It’s too much. So I will no longer be knowing anything.”

This, to me, perfectly sums up the time in which we live. Thanks to social media, we know entirely too much about everything. At any one time I am simultaneously aware of an influencer’s skincare routine, a tech guru’s thoughts on the latest electronic whizzbang, what a passing acquaintance had for dinner, and a friend’s super fun vacation. And don’t get me started on all the opinions on topics I had never really thought about but now feel I must understand and take a position on.

I’m not saying knowing some things isn’t good. I enjoy keeping up with what close friends are doing, how things are going for them, the challenges they’re encountering and the victories they win. That’s great. And, it’s good to know what’s going on in the world outside of my own personal bubble and to have a greater understanding of issues such as racism, discrimination, inequality, etc... I’m always learning.

Sometimes, though, it’s too much. My brain feels overloaded, noisy and consumed by thoughts and feelings that aren’t really my own. It’s exhausting knowing so much about so many people and events, many of which have no direct bearing on my daily life. I feel like I must care about everything, regardless of the importance, and I’m not wired for it.

I don’t think any of us, as humans, are meant to take in that much information at such a pace. I remember when Twitter first came out. I found it completely overwhelming to keep up with the random flow of tweets that had no connection to each other. There were so many people posting about a variety of topics, and it was confusing and not pleasant. My brain did adjust over time, and now I don’t find it so alien. I’m not sure, though, whether that’s good.

What worries me is that I’m missing the voice of the Divine in all this noise. I don’t believe that God only works in silence, because I think that those subtle urgings and prompts happen through a variety of means. But, when my brain is noisy, I’m not in a very receptive state and may not notice God’s quieter cues and the response of my spirit.

Part of it, I think, is that I often fear quiet, as that gives my brain room to roam, think, ruminate and worry. I’m very good at that. I can be just sitting there, in the quiet, and then my brain shouts “Have you thought about this totally horrible thing that could happen?” or “What if you do this and something awful results?” It’s not fun and the noise of social media can help drown it out, though that then triggers worries about even more things I hadn’t yet considered.

I was thinking about all of this when a daily meditation from Matthew Fox arrived in my email. He’s currently got a series going on “nothingness” and I hadn’t really been paying attention. This one caught my eye. In it, he talks about Meister Echart’s views of nothingness, specifically that it’s not to be feared.

He writes: “Eckhart encourages us not to be afraid of nothingness, but to enter in so fully that we learn the meaning of God as nothingness and what it means to ‘negate negation.’  Indeed, ‘there is nothing in God that is to be feared.  Everything that is in God is only to be loved.’”

That’s a bit heady for me, but what I took from it is that God is everywhere, even in the nothing, and it’s not to be feared. Silence is not to be feared, but embraced, because God hangs out there too, just waiting. Not knowing is OK, even good, as it makes space for knowing God.

I often feel like I must know everything and that, if I don’t, I’ll miss something important that could impact me. I’m coming to realize that there is a lot of peace in not knowing, and deep, important learning there too.

I may not completely give up taking in new information, like the woman in the Instagram Reel, but I think putting a throttle on it and being more selective might go a long way to finding some peace.

There is no need to know everything. Getting to know the Divine and my own spirit is also important. The work of a lifetime, in fact.

I’d better get to it.

Kevin Aschenbrenner is a Victoria-based writer, poet and communications professional. He holds an M.A. in Culture and Spirituality from the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif. He blogs at www.dearpopefrancis.ca.

You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE: https://www.timescolonist.com/blogs/spiritually-speaking