POP UP THINK TANK
Now a riddle: what is the common point between the Jewish tradition, Plato, the Medieval times and my father ? So, no guesses? Well here is the answer (drum roll):
The acquisition of knowledge in the Middle Ages was done through discussions, questions and answers, an educational process which dates back to the pre-Socratic Greek era: to deeply discuss issues in order to reconcile opposing views and therefore expand human knowledge.
When I was a teenager, whenever I asked a question to my father, he would refer me first to an encyclopedia and/or a dictionary to grab some basic knowledge on the matter and then would ask the usual question:- Laure, you, what do you reckon? -Uh, (do I really have an opinion on it? Would I often wonder..., thinkthinkthink, be quick and articulate), and I would breath out on the spot an hardly intelligible answer. Which would lead to a discussion; This has developed in me a natural curiosity for the world on one hand and on another hand, given me the ability to have an opinion on everything, to be ready at any time to talk and argue about everything...
Believe me this habit has become downright annoying throughout the years, even for me... However and despite the trend to know everything that it has developed in me, I recognize the highly educational nature of this method: Questioning forges the ability to think fast and well, and to be able to justify or at least consider contrary positions. .All this has served me well in my work.
But what a relief when that I finally allowed myself to have no opinion at all...
“I DON’T KNOW” has become one of my favourite sentences:
-What’s the capital city of Slovenia? hmmm I got it on the tip of my tongue ... No, no, I DON’T KNOW *
- What do you think of the most recent EU commission decision? Well which one? No just kidding, lost track ages ago; I DON’T KNOW
-What do you think of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott? Hmmm, tricky this one, considering the fact that I have a hard time even understanding the political and financial situation in Aussie Land, how could I have an opinion on him? My mum (she is French) says he is handsome; does that count? I DON’T KNOW
-Are you happy? Oh my mind! For somebody like me, simplicity impaired, that’s harsh... I DON’T KNOW.
.... And soooo on...
For years I have been a sort of reference book for many of my friends and at work; You don’t know? Ask Laure! Don’t misunderstand me however: First it is quite pleasing to be considered as knowledgeable enough to be the one who answers the questions. Plus, I have got some kind of label tag riveted on my forehead with the words “TEACHER”; whenever I am training, conferencing, lecturing, interviewing, guiding... I am always asking and answering questions; and that’s certainly one of the most exhilarating things in the world.
But from first-hand experience I highly recommend from time-to-time adopting the healthy habit of the got-no-idea position. It is mind relaxing.
I have been somewhat forced to give up many certainties lately. Yes, this new assumed ignorance makes me feel sometimes a bit dizzy and overwhelmed but as I cut down some of my mental circuits now and then I have the greatest opportunity to simply feel a situation; And believe me this is no easy task considering my European heritage, my family legacy and... my very French ability to question everything; We are used to saying that arguing is indeed the true French national sport. Speaking of which, I remember hearing an interview with a great magician, a few years ago. As he had performed all through his career in many different countries, he had noticed differences in reaction depending on the country: "In the USA, the audience is very expressive, clapping, shouting of joy" he explained, " In Japan, I can hear a very introverted but highly appreciative "ah!" ;
But in France, everybody systematically after each new tour will ask aloud:" How did he do THAT?» "
So, how can I reconcile this tendency to question, analyse and search for answers with this growing desire to let it go? Here is a secret. Beauty . This is the secret. This is the way. Whenever I look, smell, touch, hear Beauty, I get back into myself and simply enjoy the very moment; You may call it Enlightenment, Grace... whether it is human-made or Nature-made, true beauty teaches me to say “I don’t know but it feels good”. That doesn't matter your definition of what Beauty is. It varies according to your origins, your culture, even your time in life. It is greatly personal but it touches your heart and bring forth peace and secure inner quietness.
Here are some of the pearls you will find in my Beauty treasure box: A self-portrait made by aging Ingres, a sunrise landscape of Turner, the Laudate Dominum of Mozart, a ray of sun piercing the clouds after a tempest over Somerton Park, the smell of the soil right after a summer rain, an alley of gum trees framing a countryside road by Berri, Cesar of Marcel Pagnol...
Being deeply touched by each one of them and many others has been a soul-nourishing experience of true beauty. And every time I need this inner quietness, I get back to my treasure box and rediscover its content. Or I go and make new souvenirs. That’s a never ending process. As I have found out that Creating beauty may be even more uplifting and more memorable.
So yes! Questioning is good, even essential. My father used to say that if you've got the question, you are ready for the answer.
BUT... MAYBE IN BETWEEN TWO PERIODS OF ASSUMED, QUIET, UNINHIBITED IGNORANCE... Ahh, dear, beloved, precious Ignorance.
Hey, it makes me think of Woody Allen who once said: "the answer is Yes. Definitively yes. But what was the question? »…
Adelaide , November 29 2014
*Ljubljana ; Yes I checked.