I had a friend in school who could name every baseball player at every position on every team. He ended up doing very well in school and this sporting ability must have just been the first manifestation of his intelligence. I don’t know how he did it, I could barely remember the baseball players on the team I liked but I suspect I didn’t follow the sport closely enough. My friend Tim didn’t have this problem, he knew 100% of the names, without fail. I knew 1% and now I know even less.
I was walking our dog the other night when this memory came rushing out and at the same time I was looking at the stars in the night’s sky. Looking upward at the stars always reminds me how small I am, and coupled with this memory it made me realize how little I knew. I know nothing. Of course I do know a few things. I know how to tie my shoes, how to love my kids, how to use a fork, but relatively I know nothing. I know nothing of space, of planets, of solar winds, of black holes, of cosmic rays. I don’t know what fuel a space shuttle used, or what astronauts ate in space or how they pee, or how they spit. Nothing. I also don’t know how they feel.
I don’t know what it’s like to go to work after losing your wallet full of money. I don’t know how to choose between bread and eggs at the store to feed your family. I don’t know how to pump five gallons of gas because that’s all I can afford. I don’t know how to ask for help at my church. I don’t know these emotions and emotions are probably an infinite spectrum.
If there were 100 emotions and I knew 10 then I would know 10%. If there were 1,000 emotions and I knew 10 then I would know 1%. If there are an infinite number of emotions from an infinite number of people at a continuous number of moments then – mathematically at least – know nothing.
Since realizing I know nothing I am much more humble.