Edna fluffs the pillows and makes up the bed. She then places two antique dolls on top of the bedspread. The two old toys must be placed a finger’s width from each other. The young woman smoothes a wrinkle at the foot of the bed, then stands back to admire her work. Everything is just so. It has to be that way to start each day. Edna believes that to begin the day in any other way would be a personal failure.
Now that the bed is made, breakfast comes next. Edna knows for certain that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The world is in such disarray because too many people neglect breakfast. Not Edna, though. She is sure that two eggs-sunny side up, two strips of bacon, two slices of medium browned white-bread toast (served dry and cut in triangles), eight ounces of milk, and a six-ounce cup of coffee (served with two teaspoons of cream) are the ingredients everyone should consume for their first daily meal.
And so it goes, yet again. Edna just knows for sure, that this is the perfect way to live. She is indisputably, positively, completely assured that to deviate from this daily routine would be her ruination. This is a total certainty for Edna.
What might happen if Edna loses her belief in this iron-clad certainty? Will the Earth fail to rotate on its axis, or might the Moon crash into the seas? Why is Edna frightened of diversity and uncertainty? One wonders if Edna has taken the time to carefully and honestly examine her beliefs.
What does she think of people who do not put antique dolls on top of perfectly made beds? Does Edna harbor resentments towards people who eat bowls of “Cap’n Crunch” cereal and gulp down cups of black coffee? Why did Edna decide to fall back on such beliefs? Does this certainty make Edna joyful?
Do you know anybody like Edna? Do you have any traits that might be similar to Edna’s? In today’s lingo, are you “OCD” about anything? I do, in respect to my morning coffee. Why do we cling to beliefs, be they trivial or grand? Why do we surrender our power to ideas and concepts? Don’t we realize that belief in a political, religious, or philosophical concept might actually hinder understanding of ourselves? Even if we label ourselves as someone who doesn’t believe in labels, doesn’t that self-definition become a dogmatic belief?
Why do so many of us have an obsession to discover the Truth? Have you ever asked yourself this question, “What is the ultimate Truth?” Have you ever followed up this question with this one, “Why must I possess the ultimate Truth?” Or how about, “Will embracing the Truth make me a better person than others?”
While driving to a neighboring town, last week, I thought about how seeking and possessing the Truth is a competitive way of life for so many people. This has been the case for many centuries. Mankind has long judged belief “A” above philosophy “B”, or religion “C” or religion “I”, or some varient of this. Competitive belief has not yielded happy consequences for us. I’d say it only leads to less joy.
If you’re still with me, have you noticed that this post seems to be made up of a series of questions? Do I have an overarching agenda behind all of these questions? The answer to the last question is, “Not really, but I do wish that I could personally know more people who are not afraid to question life’s certainties. I enjoy spending time with people whose minds are open, because they often help me to open mine even wider.
One of the most open-minded people I know, is my friend Jorge. He challenges me to think and he allows me to laugh at myself and humanity. Jorge also introduced me to the joys of eating jalapeño, cheese, omlette burritos for breakfast. Sometimes I enjoy them with café con leche, but not every day. Today I just had a bowl of raisin bran with soy milk. Why limit myself?
Do certainties empower or imprison human beings? When our actions are compelled by certainty, do we become liberated, or enslaved?
I cannot say, for certain.