We are most often in the dark when we are most certain, and the most
enlightened when we are most confused.”
M. Scott Peck, author and psychiatrist
“Not all who wander are lost.”
J. R.R. Tolkein
Mmmm…we are “most enlightened when we are most confused.” At first, I must admit, this comment gave me pause. How can this be? And can it be true? If so, what a relief to know that this is actually a good thing. After all, confusion and creativity often go hand in hand.
Consider the simplest definition of “enlighten” — “give greater knowledge and understanding to.” OK, if I’m not mistaken about M. Scott Peck’s meaning, then being confused — feeling bewildered and befuddled — can actually be the key to greater knowledge and understanding. After pondering this a bit, I think I’ve embraced the spirit of this statement:
When we’re confused, we usually don’t know what to do next, so we stop and consider our next steps. Sometimes just halting our forward march to wherever we think we should be going can be a smart move. Stopping gives us the chance to catch a glimpse of a better direction.
When we’re confused, we’re more open to new ideas — even zany ones that might actually prove nourishing and fruitful. When we’re confused and we don’t know what the heck to do next, we open up a space for something new to reveal itself to us because we’ve lost our sense of certainty.
When we’re confused, we feel that we’re groping in the dark and we long intensely for light, for a glimmer or spark that will light our way forward. This intense longing can push us onto new and unfamiliar paths we might never have taken if we weren’t feeling lost.
When we’re confused, we’re often forced to let go of old ideas and approaches that we’ve clung to in the past. They’re simply not working anymore and we have to jettison them or they’ll sink us. This can make us feel more buoyant and bolder, which can help us write more dangerously, which is probably exactly what we need to do.
OK, I think I’ve got it: Confusion creates change. Write on!
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