The Well of Not Knowing

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Not too long before March 2020, I was browsing a local bookstore, a favorite haunt. Every so often it feels a book pushes itself a bit off the shelf so I do not miss it. This also happens at home with books I have not yet read. They seem to choose the right time to say, “Read me now.” Or at least peruse, for I have many books I have only partially read.

On that particular February day, I think it was, the book that said, “Buy me” was The Wisdom of Not Knowing: Discovering a Life of Wonder by Embracing Uncertainty by Estelle Frankel.

Little did I know that day what was ahead as we all entered into two years of not knowing in regard to one particular event, and so it continues in some ways. Within that event and outside of it, not knowing manifested in myriad other ways.

I am quite certain there is never a day when we are without moments of not knowing. If so, it is a rare one indeed.

The two words, “not knowing,” have been weaving their way through my life, first because of the book and then because I have become much more observant of how they show up and the feelings and insights they bring with them.

It is as if I am weaving a tapestry of all the ways these two words enter my life’s design. Or the description might be one of a giant mind map that needs a huge white board or even extended walls on which to draw it.

With the arrival of the book, I began with thinking about not knowing in relationship to big topics, major life intrusions, or overwhelming things, those things that are significantly beyond the scope of my imagination.

I then realized that not knowing is an everyday state and often connected to tiny things. When we wake up in the morning we don’t know what the day holds, even if we think we do. That little dilemma for many of not knowing what to wear, not knowing which way to go and feeling a bit anxious…but just a little tug of it.

Today, while embracing the many freedoms I have, I reflect on not knowing where this country is heading, even if that not knowing is coupled with hope.

There is a whole continuum of not knowing and I want to dip and dip and dip to find the wonder by embracing the uncertainty, as Estelle Frankel suggests we can experience.

I know my metaphorical wells are never dry. I have a sense that this one is particularly deep and wide and overflowing with what it has to offer up.

I have decided to devote the whole month of July to visiting the Well of Not Knowing multiple times.

I invite you to begin to ponder those two words, how they show up in your life. Take time and set an intention to observe. Perhaps keep a list or journal and along with noticing when not knowing shows up, allow yourself to ask all the questions you want to ask.

Isn’t that what we do? We ask question after question after question when we do not know, hoping for answers.

When the answers do not come right away, or perhaps at all, can we stay in that life of wonder by embracing the uncertainty? What do we do with it, especially when it feels big and important? Can we be in trust and surrender?

At least for me, there is never just one big arena of not knowing. I want to plumb the depths this month and practice how to align not knowing with other pieces of life that are known or are lived with at least a sense of being on the path.

I picture the wells as a great system of individual ones that tie into each other, even though each has its separate nourishment. So I might ask myself, “How does the well of imagination or the well of grace or the well of belonging provide for me even as I am experiencing not knowing.

I hope you will join me in the exploration and share your thoughts, for what I draw from my well of not knowing might be quite different than what you draw up.

Next week we’ll dip in with what I think of as the little dippers, the easier moments of searching.

I’m not sure it is said anymore but a term used in the past is, “Put on your thinking cap.” So put on your thinking cap and chronicle not knowing with me. I DO know I will learn something from you. Together, we will see just how deep this well is on our behalf and perhaps discover in fullness that wonder and uncertainty are a lovely pairing.

a wellchallengecoachingcuriositygathering placelife changeslife lessonsnot knowingpersonal growthpossibilitypresencespiritualitytransformationwishes
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1 Comment. Leave new

  • So interesting. Something came to me as I was reading this: How often do we “decide” to know, because not knowing is too uncomfortable? For me, real knowing comes from the gut, and does not follow a predictable timeline. But I think I have chosen to “know”, ie accepted a convenient, quick, mental kind of knowing, as a way to quell the discomfort of not actually knowing. Sometimes I have also accepted another’s knowing as my own, whether that other be an individual or a mainstream and accepted belief. I think I am not alone in this.
    The beauty of getting older seems to be that I can sit with not knowing more easily, and also recognize my gut knowledge when it arrives.


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