Nobody Knows Anything

Photo by Tim Gouw

This is not a blanket indictment of mistrust nor a simple, three-word phrase suggesting you have to depend on yourself for knowledge or the truth. This enigmatic, yet so timely, quip came to me from listening to Seth Godin, who heard it said by William Goldman, the prolific Hollywood screenwriter.

What this simple, powerful quip means is that in so many areas of life, where unexpected change is possible, those we think should know what’s coming don’t.

No one can foretell the next bestselling book, fad, or cultural viral thing that everyone wants to hear, or watch, read. Or the next Black Swan that will interrupt life as we know it. Even those paid to know such things, don’t.

For creators, this could mean “why bother,” why get up at 4 in the morning to craft well what we have to say, or paint to tell the world what we’re feeling or thinking, or head out into the dark fog alone to run because you know your life depends on staying healthy.

We know why we do these things, and although we don’t know whether it will be the next big thing, or even if enough people enjoy reading or seeing our work to add value. We just know we need to do it, and most times that’s all we have to propel us forward, to connect each day’s effort to the next day. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Despite not knowing what will happen, whether it’s from the work you do, or how the world will survive these strange times, we press on and keep doing or thinking the good work. We know such efforts will have some benefit, even if it’s just for ourselves. That’s knowing something, but it’s wisely letting go of expectation or specifics of what tomorrow will bring. We have today and we have our memories of where we’ve been.

Most days, that’s more than good enough.

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