Misgivings

There is such a thing as too much joy and, perhaps, as too much sadness. Yet think as I may, I cannot fathom for a second such a thing as too much doubt, for whenever I think, and think I do often enough, I find myself wondering if I have enough qualms.

For in this world we are blessed with a thousand and one things to doubt, a thousand more to second guess and countless more to question. Many have come and gone and they have spoken with sound minds and sounder voices that doubt is a sin, that qualms spawn distrust, that misgivings are a curse. Many fewer have said, feebly or so, that without doubt we would be clueless, without qualms we would never progress, without misgivings we wouldn’t know how to live.

My mother used to say: “one day there will come a time when you will not be able to tell your head from your bum and half the world will tell you one way and half the other. When this happens, remember you mama and remember that she made the best curry in the world”. At that time, when I was about ten or ten and a few months old, this advice made perfect sense to me and yet now, when I am seventeen and a few months, I cannot recall what that sense was.

Nevertheless, I hold on to such pieces of advice, it is a habit that I have. I have misgivings as to whether it is a good habit, but my misgivings are the reason I never let go of this habit, and this habit is the reason I caught hold of misgivings in the first place.

I remember another piece of advice given to me by a boy two years younger to me and about a head shorter, though he is today a hair’s breadth taller than me and a shade fairer. Sweet boy that he was once, he still may be but I am not so sure, he innocently asked me whether humans had actually come from monkeys. I told him that we had and he asked me if I was sure, and I found that I was and I told him so. He asked me why I was sure and I said that it had been written in a hundred books and said by a hundred people.

Charles Darwin naturally came up and he asked me why did I not simply settle for his word and why did I go on to other writers and other evidence, to which I replied that I doubted the authenticity of the claim, of course I said it in much simpler terms and I was unaware of the gravity of my answer. Then he told me that if I had never doubted Charles Darwin I could have saved myself a lot of time, to which I replied that I would never have been sure of evolution.

“And now,” he said, “you don’t read about it any more because you know it all and you don’t doubt it. Now you will never be curious about it or be fascinated by it or want to know more about it because you are so sure. What fun is that?”

This may not have been advice as we know it but it showed me something wonderful, it showed me the value of not knowing for certain, of having qualms, of harbouring misgivings. It has always been my insurmountable desire to know things, all things about everything without leaving anything out of something. But there are times when I feel that I have learnt my fill, not because there is nothing more about it to know, for one thing leads onto another and there is always something associated with everything and so it is impossible to know everything about something, but because I feel as though the time has come for some doubts to be left regarding that particular subject.

The subject of my worst nightmare is not a demonic beast or a disastrous fall or the death of a family member, all of which are most disheartening, but it is the feeling that I shall one day sit at my window looking out at the steady drizzle of water and not have a thing to think about or write about or talk about because I am so absolute in my knowledge of everything. It is a nightmare which terrifies me to my core yet I do not wish to wake from it and when I do wake from it I feel a desperate need to go back to it because I wish to see what I do to overcome my predicament, before I realise that that is my predicament.

Unwitting creature that I am, I wish to know all but also to have doubts about all, both of which cannot exist together. But there are times when I am clear in my head, times when I know exactly what I want and what I don’t want. These are usually times when I want to be in doubt, which is ironic considering the statement: “I know that I want to be in doubt”.

It is raining now, now when I am writing this, and maybe that is making me write this, but I am glad that it is. I am glad that I am writing this down as opposed to letting it sit in some part of my mind where it will bother me for all eternity or, what is infinitely worse, vanish entirely. For if it did vanish then I would never remember it and, in some time to come, I would think nothing of this night and would lose the incalculable memories this night has given me.

But memories are common, memories are found with all, memories are eventually forgotten and when they are forgotten they are nothing, for what is a memory if it isn’t remembered. No, memories are not for me. You can keep your memories, keep them all, keep them for life; I have my misgivings.

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