Trial and error life: Guessing our way through uncertainty

It seems like another driver of anxiety is this feeling that “I want to be certain.
I want to be clear.” And it’s so understandable, of course.
It’s wonderful when we clearly know something.
It’s just very well defined, absolutely this is the situation, these are the steps, this is what’s coming.
I mean, if that goes too far, it can just become boring, you know, everything laid out, but for the most part, it’s very nice to have everything be clear and known, so we know the steps to take, what to do to get the best result.
Everything laid out clearly.
The problem is, of course, that life is rarely like that.
How many things in life really are that clear? For the most part, it just seems like we’re living in this world of fuzziness, this cloud of uncertainty around everything.
And it seems to be automatic, when we’re projecting anything into the future, when we’re planning for the future, doing things that have results in the future, there’s always going to be this kind of lack of clarity.
The further out we go into the future- like we can say the present, we can sort of define it- and even that’s not perfect, because we certainly don’t have a perfect view of even what’s happening right now.
So everything is fuzzy, everything’s a cloud.
But even if we can imagine a certain kind of clarity about the present situation, as soon as we start to project into the future and imagine what’s going to happen, make plans for the future, do things that will bear fruit in the future, then as soon as we move out of the present, it just becomes less and less defined, less and less certain.
It becomes just more and more vague.
First the sharp, clear lines become blurred lines, and then it eventually just becomes this cloud, and then eventually into the complete blurry unknown.
And that’s very frustrating.
And wanting to have clarity and find some way to define clarity in this fuzzy, shifting cloud of the future: well, no wonder anxiety is such hard work, because you just imagine trying to make a shape out of a cloud, trying to define it, trying to look for something clear, and then it’s always shifting, it’s never clear.
We just can’t get clear answers.
And there are people that are offering clear answers.
They can tell you “This is exactly how life works.
This is exactly how the universe works.
Just follow this particular system.” Of course, then you have other people saying the same thing with completely different systems, and what are you gonna do? You can follow one of them, follow one of the other ones, but it seems like nobody really knows any kind of precise system for how to live.
So this is something that I find difficult to get used to, but I like the concept of the heuristic.
Heuristic: a simple, trial-and-error, rough-and-ready system of problem solving, where we accept that nothing is clear.
We accept that there is no defined answer.
But we just accept the imperfection, accept the fuzziness, accept the lack of clarity, accept not knowing anything completely and perfectly, but simply at each step try to make good guesses.
OK, I’ll make a guess about my next step here.
OK, look at the results.
Try this, take the next step, look at the results.
Accepting that at no point do I ever reach the “right answer”.
It’s only trying to avoid the worst decisions, trying to make better decisions, trying to bend towards better outcomes, always through trial and error and observing the results.
And it’s not easy to give up on that desire for total clarity, and it’s not easy to live in the dark like this.
But it seems like this is the way that we have to make decisions, simply because we don’t know enough, we are living with so many unknowns, and the best we can do is to make guesses as we take steps in the dark with our limited knowledge and work the best we can with what we have.
Trial and error life.
It just doesn’t seem very satisfying, does it? I would like to have some kind of clarity.
But it seems like any kind of clarity is only relative, and that we start from a base of knowing nothing.
And if we accept that maybe that’s the way to make the best decisions in life, knowing that we can never have a perfect answer, but just making the best guesses that we can.

#trialanderror #uncertainty #guesswork

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