The Prerogative of Uncertainty

If you were given the opportunity to learn about all of life’s unanswerable secrets: the legitimacy of a higher power or the so-called ‘correct’ religion, every conspiracy theory known to man, what happens after death, women, the meaning and purpose of life itself, ETC… would you take it?

I was presented with this question the other day, and it has been on my mind ever since. On one hand, answering yes would provide you with the ability to achieve complete fulfillment in life. Our entire lives are spent searching for the answers that are unattainable, and getting these answers would provide you with ultimate closure. However, you run the risk of vacating purpose and drive for the remainder of your life. On the other hand, answering no would allow you to continue your pursuit for answers, allowing you to form your own answers to life’s question, ultimately providing real meaning and purpose. However, these questions are basically unsolvable, exposing you to the very real possibility of the absence of true closure.

If you were to ask me this question a decade ago, I would have answered yes without hesitation. I used to lay awake at night mulling over these questions, desperately looking for an answer that wasn’t there. But now, my answer is the complete opposite. This is because, through my 20 short years of life experience, I’ve come to understand that uncertainty is our prerogative.

For the last three and a half months, I’ve had the opportunity to take uncertainty head-on. No amount of blogs, books, videos, or personal accounts can prepare you to live in a foreign country. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) articulates it perfectly to Will Hunting (Matt Damon) in Good Will Hunting when he exclaimed “So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel”. We may think we know everything there is to the world, but until you walk the smooth stone streets of Dubrovnik, climb to the top of the Bran Castle in Romania, or have a conversation with a Yugoslavian War Veteran, we cannot fully come to understand the magnitude of the human experience.

It is this uncertainty that drives my ambition. If I were to be certain of what the world has to offer, I would have no need to get out and explore, to meet new people, to learn new information, or enjoy what life has to offer. Why would I want to have someone tell me the answers when I can get out and discover them for myself? Humans have been given a gift of thought and wonder, and to gain all the answers is to waste the unique gift that no other species has.

With three weeks left in Dubrovnik, the question of dealing with life’s uncertainties linger in my mind. I, as many others my age, am at a pivotal crossroad in my life. Summer is fast approaching, and before I know it I will be starting my internship, completing my undergraduate degree, and continuing on into the real world. Now, more than ever before, my future is filled with the uncertainties that come with the real world and the question is how do I tackle them? For me, the answer is simple.  Just as I always have: head-on without the thought of hesitation. If there’s anything that I’ve learned over this last three and a half months, it’s to learn to love, embrace, and strive to solve the unanswerable question that life has to offer, for it is this that you find life’s meaning.