One of my favorite “dilemmas” was what I would call “not knowing what to
do.” It can go by other names besides a dilemma, such as curiosity, open-
mindedness, relaxation, spontaneity, or even boredom.
How does “I don’t know what to do” become a dilemma? When I have a second
background issue of being anxious about what other people think, then not
knowing what to do could be labeled a “problem.”
Do they notice that I do not know what to do? Are they threatened by it?
“He should know what to do. It makes me look bad that he does not know!”
Once, a very long time ago, I did not know what to do. I was not operating
according to a plan. In other words, I did not have a plan approved by the
city commissioner’s review board. Again, odd as it may seem, I did not have
a plan at all.
Was it horrible? It was actually rather simple.
I had no plans to breath. Breathing in and out just came and went.
I had no plans to grow teeth. They just grew.
I had no plans to grow hair. Again, hair just grew.
So wasn’t it horrible, though? How could I just grow hair if the hair was
basically growing by itself and I was not planning it all in advance?
How was all of this stuff (that I did not even know to do) going to
actually happen? I did not even know how to do any of these things like
grow hair or grow teeth. Further, among the things that I did not know how
to do, I did not even know TO DO those things at all!
Eventually, I learned this new thing called language and, after I learned
language, I learned a story about someone named God. One odd thing about
this God was that apparently God was the one who grew all of the hair on my
Not only that, he could count all of those hairs. What?!?! Seriously?
I did not know much about this God fellow, but it reminded me of the movie
Rainman. God was apparently one of those rare individuals who could just
look at a jar full of marbles and instantly know exactly how many marbles
were in the jar. God was obviously an “idiot savant.”
So, as I said, I was told that God could count the number of hairs on my
head. That was quite impressive. I do not know if there was any kind of a
prize or contest in which counting the numbers of hairs on my head was the
challenge, but God was apparently the one who could tell the rest of us who
had the correct guess.
Something was weird about the story, though. How exactly could God count
all of the hairs on my head instantly?
An idiot savant is a great subject for speculative scientific research or
maybe a TV movie, but eventually I was told that God was not an idiot
savant, but a genius. If God was such a genius, then I’d like to have this
alleged genius show me how to do the hair-counting trick. Where was I going
to find this genius?
Right about then was when I realized that I did not know what to do. Should
I find God? Should I seek to learn the magical secret of hair-counting?
I felt like maybe if I did find God, then other people would reward that
with their love and congratulations and so on. However, since I did really
not know how to find God, I figured I would just retreat a bit from my
embarassing ignorance about not knowing how to find him and say instead
that “I do not know if I should find God or not.”
I later added “I do not even know if God can be found!” As time went on, I
retreated even further from my sure-fire method for being adored by
everyone (to learn God’s hair-counting secret)… by questioning the
existence of God altogether!
“If I can’t find him,” I speculated, “then maybe that is because there is
no such thing. Furthermore, how do I even know that he really CAN instantly
count all of the hairs on my head? What if he was just bragging to try to
impress me and made up the whole thing about the number of hairs on my
head, presuming that I did not know some trivial detail like the number of
hairs on my head, so I would be unlikely to challenge him on the issue.”
I felt duped. How could I have let something like this happen? Once again,
I did not know what to do.
Of course, I did know that something needed to be done. Obviously,
something needed to be done about something, right?
All you have to do is look around with the intention to find an idealistic,
utopian issue and then you can find lots of other people who are already
eager to tell you about the thing that according to them everyone needs to
do something about. People need to do something about all of the important
social issues. People need to do something about the planet. People need to
do something about that one government. People really need to do something
about lots of things, right?
I, however, did not know what to do. You can recognize by now what a
serious crisis this was becoming for me.
Other people were getting quite hysterical and passionate and panicking
about the things that something needed to be done about. I did not have
anything important to do like they did.
No one was congratulating me for what a great job I was doing in regard to
the thing that something needed to be done about. No one was attacking me
for doing something about the wrong thing instead of obsessing about their
I was so lonely. I just wanted to, you know, connect to people. I did not
even know what to do!
By that time, I had totally forgotten about God. I had totally lost
interest in the very important issue of being able to instantly count
Probably because of my lack of special skills, no one thought that I was a
genius. No one thought that I was an idiot savant. No one thought about me
much at all.
They talked to me, sure. But they were clearly talking about themselves,
not about me. They were thinking about themselves and the glories of making
importnat reforms and saving the world from some very important problems by
doing something about those important things.
Suddenly, the number 1.62 million came to my attention for no reason
whatsoever. I did not even think about how the number 1.62 million could be
very important. I just gently pondered it.
I was not thinking about hairs or counting. I was just walking down a
stairway one day and, with total certainty, I thought of 1.62 million.
What was it? How was it important?
I seriously did not know what to do with this number. I thought “what am I
going to do with this,” but nothing came to mind at all.
This was not an important issue. This was just some number.
No one was offering to give me a college scholarship if I could count
hairs. No one was even mentioning hairs!
What about all the prizes that I was going to win if I could provide the
accurate total number? There were no prizes. It was all a fantasy.
Naturally, I was pissed!
Who even cares about this God person? I don’t care. I don’t care about it
so much that I got a T-shirt that says “I do not even care about God.”
However, I do not even wear it. Who really cares, right?
Anyway, I still do not know what to do. Now I call it freedom.
It is a perfectly valid dilemma though. You can not know what to do and
then contemplate how you might be able to eventually know what to do. That
could be fun, right?
You could find a club where people could discuss knowing what to do. You
could find a book that is all about knowing what to do. Or, if you cannot
find a book about that, then you could write one.
Language can be interesting. Through language, people can be paralyzed in
to confusion about figuring about how to know what to do.
There are certains things that are what to do, right? Other things are what
not to do and the things to do are very important, right?
Plus, there are things that it does not matter if you do or not. That gives
us three categories: what to do, what to definitely avoid doing, and then
People need to know their priorities so that they can decide between which
things to do first, like growing teeth or growing hair. After we figure out
what priorities people should have, then we could tell what priorities to
have and monitor their behavior to let them know if they are doing the
things that it is a priority for them to do.
We need to make sure that people are doing the right thing. They should do
the right thing and they should do it the right way.
That is what people should do. That is what to do.
Or, we could count hairs. I really do not see the point of that though.
Every time that I have ever done it, I got 1.62 million, so why keep
counting hairs over and over when I already know exactly how many there
So what would be fun? Do you know what would be fun? If not, I will tell
How about this? We could make fun of humans and how they use language and
how they do the wrong things the right way. That would be totally,
You go first. I do not even know how to do that, so I will just watch you
and see what I can learn from watching.
Do it. Go ahead. I dare you.
You’re too scared, aren’t you? I just knew that it was going to be a
mistake to count on someone like you!
I do not know what I am going to do if you do not do that one thing.
Seriously, I just do not even know what to do about this.
This is important. I should know this. I can’t believe I do not know this.
This is so embarrassing.
So, seriously, are you going to do it or not? You need to just relax and do
the important thing the way that it should be done.
That is what you need to do now. That is what to do.
Do that. Do it now. Do it or else I am going to threaten you!
You know what to do. Do not even mess with me and pretend that you don’t
know. I know that you know. You can agonize about it all that you like, but
that is not going to stop me from recognizing that you know what to do.
Don’t even try to pretend that you do not know. You totally know. I can see
it from the look on your hairs, all 1.62 million of them.