Do you find yourself spending time trying to figure things out? Do you watch the news hoping to make sense of the world, or ever consult psychics to know the future, or even what someone else is thinking?
It’s human nature to want to peer into the future. Somehow there must be a way to control our fates with foreknowledge! We can feel a deep need, at times, to know, and be secure in knowing, as much as possible, as far in advance as possible.
Many years ago I was organizing a large two-day event. The night before it was going to take place, I found my mind ablaze with anxious thoughts. Although I was physically exhausted, my mind was fresh and alert; it wanted to know the outcome. It was pressing me to get a clear glimpse of the future and refused to stop churning and twisting. Confronted by this legion of mind-chattering thoughts, I saw what was happening; I was attacking myself.
These thoughts felt like a group of circling vultures hungrily waiting to consume me. While I sensed the desperate futility of my mind, I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen. Frustrated, I said out loud, with great determination, “I don’t need to know!” At that moment I relaxed and so did my mind chatter. I had stopped playing the endless analysis game.
Does knowing what will happen – may happen – really help us? Does education and absorbing endless streams of information prepare us? What is the value of consultants, experts, prophets, and guides? What if at times ignorance is more than bliss; it was power?
Bubble gum was an accidental invention. The person who stumbled upon this much loved product didn’t know what he was doing. In 1928 Walter E. Diemer, the inventor of bubble gum, worked for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company as an accountant. For fun, he liked to experiment with new gum recipes as a hobby.
Walter discovered that one of his experimental batches was less sticky than regular chewing gum. It stretched more easily. He also noticed that bubbles formed. It was an accident, not at all what he intended or expected, but nonetheless this bubbly batch gave Walter an idea. So he scooped up five pounds of his new creation, hauled it over to a grocery store, and started selling it to see what would happen. In a single afternoon, he sold the entire batch.
Walter was only 23 at the time. His bubble gum was an instant success. In the first year, profits for this new product exceeded one million dollars. He even figured out how to blow bubbles with his new, bubbly gum, and then trained all the companies gum salesman to become expert bubble-blowers to better promote the revolutionary product. The reason today that most bubble gum is pink is simple. Pink was the only food coloring he could find in the factory! He had no choice and pink stuck – excuse the pun.
Now imagine a person today trying to figure out how to invent, mass produce and market bubble gum? Millions could be spent on experimentation, test-marketing and other research, and development. Who would even come up with the idea to blow bubbles to begin with? Can you imagine the discussions about what the color should be? And what would have happened if Walter had gone to a bank to get a loan to create bubble gum? He probably would have gotten nothing for such an outlandish idea!
Life can be a lot like the invention of bubble gum. We just live, fool around, tinker and happy accidents occur. Later we understand it all, but by then it’s all over. How can we just relax and let go of the need to know?
Sometimes the best things that happen to us are unexpected – and delightfully so! I’ve spent some time pondering what tips I can offer about how to let go of the need to know and just trust. Maybe, just by stopping the urge to continuously ask so many questions, and churning fearful possibilities in our minds, over and over, is the key?
We don’t control it all. Why do we try to, though? We cannot know everything, but we can learn to trust in the perfection of life as it unfolds. This sounds easy to do, but we all know that it’s not at times. So, don’t ask me, I don’t know, and I don’t need to know!