“For we are free—free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place.”
—Richard Adams, The Plague Dogs
What Adams is describing here is not just the agony of freedom, but the agony of freedom plus honesty. For most of us, making that “supreme effort to reach where we long to be” precludes any chance that we’ll ever conclude that it’s not the right place. In hindsight, the once-suspect information and half-knowledge will seem stronger and more complete. Commitment creates its own confidence.
In other words, if you’ve ever experienced the kind of dark freedom described above, take it as a positive sign. There’s moral courage in acknowledging what you don’t know.
But is it any wonder that so many of us seek out confident teachers who offer unambiguous answers, or who promise wisdom in seven simple steps?