The More I See, The Less I Know
There's a song by Michael Franti and Spearhead entitled Say Hey I Love You. There's a lyric in that song that is sung so flippantly, so joyously, that the profundity is basically begging to be overlooked. It's a lyric that has long confused me, yet has continued to invite me to think about it. The lyric:
"The more I see, the less I know..."
I like to write blogs that relate to a general audience, and try my best to avoid diving too deeply into my own personal narrative. At the risk of losing the attention of some people though, I'd like to tie my own experience into why I think this song lyric is so profound and important.
If I know anything about people, especially myself, it's that most of our flaws originate in insecurity. Our flaws are generally born of attempts to defend ourselves from judgement, pain or isolation. Normally these kinds of flaws begin taking shape around adolescence, when we start to develop our own social lives. We go into school as more or less social blank slates. Little by little, we observe how our peers react to what we say or do, and subconsciously try to do more of what gets a good reaction, and less of what gets a bad reaction.
As a middle schooler, I had a hard time fitting in properly. I was liked, but not fully accepted. I wasn't bullied, but I also never really felt like I fully belonged anywhere. I was friends with the football players, but I didn't like football. I was friends with pretty girls, but they weren't interested in dating me. I was allowed to sit at the cool kids table, but at the end, and I struggled to get a word in. I remember it impacting me, and this basic insecurity has followed me into adulthood. I still very much feel like an outsider that was graciously allowed inside, everywhere I go.
Because of my propensity to feel small and unnoticed, I started trying to find ways to grab attention. I figured out that girls would pay a little more attention to me if I used big words and said smart things. I discovered that the kids around me were entertained by me trying to argue with teachers and tell them why they're wrong. In essence, I figured out that knowing more than everybody else made me unique. So I decided I would speak more eloquently and poetically than everybody else. I would be the old soul - the wise man on campus.
So I've spent the better part of the last 10 years of my life, my most formative years, building an ego on the foundations of desiring to be the smartest person around, so that I can feel like I matter. That sentence hurts to type. But I'm tired of avoiding truth. I've spent years searching for truth, continually finding myself back where I began. Turns out truth is circular, as is the pursuit of it. Not knowing that though, I've been searching for absolute, one size fits all answers to questions like 'How does one be happy?', 'What's the meaning of life?', and 'What is love, really?'.
I've used my 'conclusions' (a term I use loosely) as means of impressing people with my wisdom or introspective prowess. I've tried to use my intellect to impress employers, my music audience, friends, and girls. People are generally impressed by it too - at the beginning, at least. There's a serious problem with all of this though. I've been using my anecdotal experience as means of defining truth for everybody I meet. In the back of my mind, I'll rehearse advice for everybody I meet for everything they're going through, as if I have any sort of perspective on their situation (newsflash - I don't).
Ultimately, that drives people away. I've been under the impression that there's a certain level of awareness or ascension that would make everything make sense. Once I learned enough, read enough, or thought enough, I would finally be the perfect mentor, perfect brother, son, friend, and boyfriend. What I've discovered recently though is that the more I've thought, the less I understand. The more I problem solve, the bigger the problems get. The more I see, the less I know.
It hit me recently, that while it's fun to contemplate big ideas and concepts, the only thing that's ever going to matter is family. That means blood. That means friends. That means spouses. Family. Love. That's it. Family is the people who don't need you to be smart to love you. They don't need you to be rich to love you. They don't need you to know how fix their problems, rather just care to walk through life's troubles with them. That's family. That's meaningful.
Turns out the wisest people out there don't spend that much time seeking wisdom, but serving, loving, and living.
"Don't be over-righteous, neither be over-wise -- Why destroy yourself?"
- Ecclesiastes 7:16