Monday, January 11, 2010

the need to know

In the world of spies, there is something called "the need to know." The idea, as I get it, is that the fewer people who know certain sensitive information, the less likely it is that someone will spill the beans or misuse what they have little or no capacity to use well.

Sometimes I think there is an internal world of "the need to know." Unlocking secrets is a favored pastime, a way to be in ever-widening circles of control in our lives. Ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge isn't bliss either.

I thought of this just now because I was trying to remember what day of the week it was. I couldn't immediately tell and had to do some calculations in order to nail it down. But then it occurred to me, did I really have the need to know?

Well, yes. I did need to know in order to keep whatever promises I might have made or in order not to inconvenience others, but otherwise ...? Does it matter if it's Monday? Would it change much if it were Tuesday?

Perhaps it's retirement or simple aging that will do this to you -- relinquishing what was once a pretty serious "need to know." And others may dither and prattle about keeping a handle on things ... and I certainly wouldn't elevate the idea of being stupid.

But there is a lightening of the load -- just not-knowing stuff, not cementing the world around you, not recreating what has no need of re-creation. Is Monday any the more Monday because I call it "Monday?" Isn't there more room for what actually happens -- to actually know -- when you don't know? Isn't it lighter, less crowded, and less uncertain? When you know things, there is always the high-probability chance that there is something you don't know, that you've left something out, and that there will be a surprise around the corner. But when you don't know, everything is a surprise ... fresh as a daisy ... just as it honestly is.

Just noodling about the "need to know" habit.

And yeah, I've got it straightened out ... today is called Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I love to know..

    Happy Monday, genkaku, may it be a great one :)