Thinking “I got it” is akin to what Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) calls, “the illusion of understanding.” These illusions are comforting and reduce the anxiety surrounding uncertainty. They also feed our need to believe that “actions have appropriate consequences, and that success will reward wisdom and courage.”
Faced with the strong desire to figure it out, we live with the illusion that we understand the past and can predict and control the future. Yet, life is uncertain.
So, when the veil of understanding falls, and we face the naked uncertainty of the moment, we can choose to let go of answers and live into the questions. We can turn to wonder.
Wonder shifts attention back to the questions. “I wonder what my current understanding teaches me about myself?” “I wonder what evoked such a strong reaction?” “I wonder what the other person is feeling right now?”
Wonder also invites us to ease up and listen, to hold the mystery and let it be. We may even come to enjoy it, echoing the words of Roselle Kovitz: “I live for moments when mystery quietly calls me…and returns me to a state of wonder.”
Wisdom begins in wonder. Socrates
Here’s a brief reflection on wonder and living into the questions by Roselle Kovitz (read now)