I don’t know when it happened for absolute certainty, but little by little I grew up with the idea that nothing is perfect. I couldn’t count on something occurring perfectly all the time.
For example no matter how hard I tried, I could not be perfectly sure I would be able to arrive at my girlfriend’s house at the exact same moment every time to pick her up for a date.
If I was low on gas (in 1961 I drove a 1952 chevy stick), I drove slower to conserve on fuel. If the traffic was just a little bit heavier than anticipated, I would arrive anywhere from five to ten minutes late.
No matter how hard I tried, there were slight fluctuations that made it difficult, if not impossible, to arrive precisely at the very same time 100% of the time.
The problem came with my girlfriend who would get bent out of shape if I didn’t arrive at the exact moment I said I would. And the more she pressed me to do so, the more imprecise my arrival tended to be.
I would tell her that life isn’t absolutely perfect. She couldn’t accept that. It was good we took a permanent timeout.
Nothing is perfect.
Did you know that a little particle of energy, an electron, inhabits everything in the universe? Your body is full of electrons. Everything that makes up your car is full of electrons.
However, did you know that when you try to observe an electron through a microscope, the harder it is to find the electron’s precise location? It’s weird! It holds the universe together, yet it doesn’t occupy space. And like my arrival time at my girlfriend’s home, the more the microscope focuses, the less precise the electron’s position becomes.
Georg Hegel is among my favorite philosophers, except It’s near impossible to understand his original writings. Hence, I enjoy the interpretations others have of his writings. One of Hegel’s powerful ideas was, “the power of the opposite”: meaning, we need to understand the opposite of what we believe to be true in order to to get at a fuller truth.
That suits me. Every idea I’ve ever come up with automatically spawns an opposite idea in my mind. It has been that way all my life.
So you know what goes through my mind when someone says, “I have the one and only truth”? My life flashes before me: the almost absolute impossibility of being able to arrive at my girlfriend’s home at precisely the time she demanded; the imprecision of the electron to be in exactly any one spot; and Hegel’s idea that to understand the full meaning of truth it’s best to study the opposite truth to yours.
I have not encountered absolute truth in any one place at one time. Truth has to be patched together. One has to put different ideas together to come close in allowing life to function adequately.