The Undefined Succeeding despite the unknowns BY: Troy Murphy | November 2017
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The character of our lives is expressed through observable action. The nooks and crannies, the polished and rough, are on display for the world to see. Others look and judge by the actions we take. We work, we love, we hate, we give, and we hurt. The outward actions are measurable elements, easily compared and contrasted with others. Actions are essential to well-being (see Five Basics of Well-being; Building Blocks of Choice). We shouldn’t feast on positive mindsets while starving for positive action; but there is more to a person than the value of their actions; something beyond description, existing in the mind, and (metaphorically) in the heart—the undefined.
In their brightly bleached lab coats, scientist and doctors scurry around the laboratory and medical offices frantically measuring regions of the brain for activity, jumping at meager morsels of understanding to grasp the undefined. Scientific discoveries are enlightening, opening new realities, and creating better methods of healing. Even with modern technology, vivid brain scans, detecting chemical movement and neuronal communication, we only have a small glimpse into the vast universe of life. The liveliness of our existence remains relatively undefined.
Innate drive, shaped by experience, leap into life expressed in motivations, emotions, consciousness, and behaviors. Somewhere in the twisted axons and neural synapses is born self-confidence, security, and self-esteem pushing connections and inspiring hate. Does this make me good or evil? How does freewill exist within this framework? The answers remain—the undefined.
Science will continue to provide greater insights into the fabulous functions of the brain; but when does this information become too technical for the ordinary human trying to survive a divorce, courageously compete for gainful employment, break devastating addictions or suffering from cancer? We must live regardless of what is defined and what is undefined. We must walk through daily existence with liveliness, full of emotions, and healthy connections. Presumably, we will understand more about life at sixty than we did at twenty. But twenty year-olds make choices that have greater consequences on their futures—education, marriage, and careers.
"The liveliness of our existence remains relatively undefined."
We will be challenged with unknowns. Perhaps some of the unknowns will shift with new discoveries while many other answers will remain stubbornly beyond our reach. Within this realm of knowledge we must act. Immanuel Kant wrote, “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” The well-lived life needs knowledge. Our actions must respect the laws of the universe. In this sense, Francis Bacon is correct, “Knowledge is power.” This is not a call for complete knowledge—for completeness is impossible.
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ~Thomas Sowell
“The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.” ~Benjamin Franklin
“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” ~Nicolaus Copernicus
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge.” Daniel J. Boorstin
“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.” Socrates
The undefined is the obstacle; accepting it is the answer. We must live within the burden of ignorance but flourish within the gift of knowledge. We gather the fragments of knowledge available, organize our lives into action, and trudge forward into the darkness, where happiness, fear, joys and sorrows will be found. This is the experience of the undefined life. The life we live.