Dancing with Uncertainty
doing the "right" thing in the face of cosmic ignorance
While pursuing a meaningful life, I often find myself grappling with the tension that exists between wanting to do what is "right" and recognizing the vastness of my own cosmic ignorance. I yearn to create a better world, yet my limited perspective leaves me questioning whether I even know what "right" and "wrong" truly are. Is it possible to reconcile these seemingly conflicting desires and find internal peace amidst the uncertainty?
This question emerged from a discussion with a friend who challenged my statement that we lack sufficient information to unequivocally define “good”. Part of me was worried at my own take, as I could see myself using this perspective to justify inaction and disengagement with the world around me. Though, another part also couldn’t accept the idea that forward progress in the world has to come at the expense of internal peace. It just can’t be that binary.
Our understanding of the world is shaped by our local contexts — our day-to-day environments, interactions, and relationships. In these spheres, it’s often clear what feels right or wrong based on our values and intuition. Yet, when we zoom out to a cosmic level, our knowledge is dwarfed by the enormity of the unknown. How can we confidently pursue what is "right" when our perspective is so myopic
I think the path forward lies not in attempting to resolve this tension, but rather in learning to dance with it. Instead of clinging to an inflexible notion of right and wrong, we can actively choose to embrace the uncertainty inherent in our own existence. This doesn't mean abandoning our pursuit of goodness, but rather detaching ourselves from any specific outcome.
When letting go of our attachment to outcomes, we open ourselves to the serendipity of life's unfolding. It's no secret that negotiations and interpersonal relationships often thrive when we are less focused on controlling the end result. Similarly, a pursuit of goodness can be more authentic and impactful when we allow ourselves to be guided by intuition and values rather than desperately clinging to a particular outcome.
Even in the face of uncertainty, we can still make conscious choices that align with our values and intuition. By doing so, we acknowledge the limits of our knowledge while still striving to create a better world. This delicate dance allows us to maintain internal peace without succumbing to inaction or apathy.
Ultimately, the secret to navigating the tension between doing good and embracing uncertainty may lie in the simple yet profound act of being present. When we are fully engaged in the present moment, we can more clearly discern the right path in our local context, even if we can't see the full cosmic picture. By being present, we open ourselves to the beauty and wisdom of the world around us, allowing it to guide our actions and shape our destiny.
In the end, the dance of doing good and embracing uncertainty is an ongoing journey, one that invites us to continually reassess, recalibrate, and recommit to our values and intentions. It’s a delicate balance, but one that can lead to a life of depth, meaning, and ultimately, peace.