I once asked Isaac Asimov, the scientist and prolific writer, what he thought the greatest unknown was. Without a moment's hesitation, he replied, "the mind."
When you think about it, what we know may be informative and fine, but what we don't know is really, really vast. The vastness is not an invitation to dissolve in a puddle of helplessness, but it is interesting. I like coming across things that let me know that the handle I imagined I had on one thing or another really doesn't tell the whole story ...
Today, for example, there is violence in the Middle East, corruption in one governing body or another, a multi-million-dollar race for the Republican presidential nomination, a question about which war the United States wants to start next ... and a thousand other high-profile issues to tumble-dry in the mind.
But the one that got my attention today was a two-year drought in Texas that is forcing cattle farmers to move north in order to feed their stock. This is an issue that speaks to food, to survival, to having the energy to prosecute another war or another benevolent philosophy. I don't generally think about Texas or factor it into my appreciation of the country I live in. Texas is big and brassy and self-serving and ... well, it is a blip on my radar screen. But Texas -- like anywhere else -- is a place that feeds me and that feed is under threat.
Is there anywhere that is not Texas?
As former Beatle John Lennon once put it, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
What my mind doesn't know is so vast. And much as I may dislike it, this suggests that humility is a quality that deserves a second look ... at a minimum.
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