Excerpt from Ken McArthur’s story, “The Little I Know”
Destiny was having a very rough day.
Usually a poster child for success with a welcome look that made her smile contagious, Destiny wasn’t smiling on that dreary day. She was sitting in her pastor’s office, knowing the world had conspired to ruin her life at the sweet, young age of 27.
Success had come early to Destiny.
She was the girl to be with in high school, the young woman to watch in college and the rising star early in her business life. She didn’t even wait until the magic age of 30 to become the CEO of her own multi-million dollar company.
But now that was over.
Her partners had deceived her.
The IRS hounding her, bankruptcy was no relief and although the prosecutors had decided not to pursue criminal charges, the future looked empty of hope. Friends had fled and love was not in the air on that rainy afternoon. God had washed it down the storm drain with the rest of her life.
Destiny wasn’t looking for God as she turned to her pastor and said in a barely audible voice, “What am I supposed to do now? I don’t believe in anything.”
So the pastor turned to her and said, “I have a friend who started there. Would you like to meet him?”
And so it happened on a slightly sunnier day, Destiny found herself opening the door to a simple one room office in a quiet, older section of town.
She wasn’t impressed.
There was no receptionist. The only person in the room was sitting behind a large cluttered desk and surrounded by countless bookshelves and mementos of a lifetime.
He was a man in his 60s, maybe handsome in a past century Destiny thought. His clothes weren’t impressive, just jeans and a sweater and although the pastor had indicated she could learn something about life from meeting with this dropout from a past generation, she wasn’t too sure.
He certainly didn’t look too successful to her and more than anything Destiny wanted success.
His smile was welcoming though and so Destiny sat down in the comfortable chair across from him, her eyes wandering across the countless shelves of books and began with a simple question.
“So what do you know?”
“It’s funny that you should ask Destiny, because I don’t know much, but I did ask myself that very question many years ago.
Imagine a teenager, the son of a Presbyterian minister in a one stop light, Colorado town. His haircut close – the barber tells him he can never grow long hair because his is too thick and unruly – he has the thin, gawky, semi-pimply look of every teenage boy that you never wanted to be.
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and he’s lying on his bed in an upstairs bedroom of a house built long ago as a manse, probably occupied by a long line of pioneer ministers out in the wilds of the Southwest and now the breeding place of more ideas than one teenage boy can handle.
He looks across the room at the old dining room table, which convinced his parents he needs because any normal desk was never big enough to hold his ideas.
His eyes drift to the ham radio he uses to eavesdrop on the rest of the world.
As his eyes follow the antenna out of the window to the tree in the yard, his mind drifts in and out of focus as he wonders if there is anything he really knows is true.
Destiny, great ideas tend to come when you have no boundaries on your thinking. They’re scary because great ideas are — by definition — not normal. They’re different than run of the mill variety ideas. They just click.
In my teens no dreams existed which were beyond my reach or problems too great to solve.
I started with a clean slate.
As a teen nothing seemed above challenging and so I challenged everything.
I asked the questions, “What is the truth and does it have many faces? Is it unknowable?”
I began to doubt everything.
What if the world was nothing like I imagined it to be?
Did the world even exist? After all, dreams can seem as real as our daytime world.
Was there a God? How could I possibly know for sure? Was there anything which was undeniably true?
So I started from a blank slate and attempted to find something I knew to be absolutely true and found almost nothing.
In the unbounded and unconquered mind of a teenage boy there are no limits.
- There might not be a God.
- I might not be a person.
- Other people might not exist.
- The world might not exist.
- Good might not be good.
- Bad might not be bad.
- One might not equal one.
It was pretty radical thinking for a teenage kid – or maybe completely common.
In fact, in all of my mental wandering that day, I only discovered one thing I was sure of beyond a doubt.
My single point of undisputed truth was a simple idea …
Destiny stared across the desk at Tom trying to see if he was putting her on. Tom looked deadly serious.
Was this the level of wisdom her pastor expected her to get?
“Are you kidding?”
“Of all the truth I know Destiny, the most profound fact of the little I know, is the little — I am.”
I know it sounds basic, but that’s the way life is. The important things are the simple ones.
Destiny, I worried about how little I knew too, so I was relieved in later years to discover I wasn’t the only person who thought this way.
In fact, it turns out this kind of thinking changed the landscape of the way men thought many years ago.
Rene Descartes’s first wrote “Je pense donc je suis,” (“I think therefore I am”) in his Discourse on Method in 1637.
The Discourse on the Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise which is one of the most influential works in the history of modern science and Descartes’ method gave a solid platform from which all modern natural sciences could evolve.
Descartes started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so he could assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of preconceived notions and he too came down to the same clear truth I accepted on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
“Well, I guess you have a point Tom.
Since I’m thinking, at least I know that I exist, so there is one little truth I can be completely sure of thanks to you and Descartes.
At least I know something.”
“Destiny, I can’t prove YOU exist (only you can do that), but if you are thinking about what I just said, then you exist too – and you know one more thing.
We can talk about that next time.
For right now, you have one undeniable truth.
If you are listening to me right now, then you know that you exist.
You can’t deny that.
So starting with one simple fact, “I exist” what else can you possibly know?
Not too much.
There are a few more things I’d like to share with you, but first I want you to let that simple fact soak into your being.
There is nothing more profound in this world than the one thing you know without a doubt.
What a gift to know that nothing can shake that certainty.
Just take a day or two to think about that wonderful certainty and we can continue our conversation.
There’s not much I know, but of all the truth I know Destiny, the most profound fact of the little I know, is the little — I am.
If you me to finish this story, please comment below.
If you would like to work with me Click here and check out the New Impact Partnering Program.
You can be involved as little or as much as you like, but the one REQUIREMENT is that you have to WANT to work with me and this amazing family of remarkable people.
I ONLY want you to join us if this is a good fit for you, but if you think it IS, then I DEFINITELY want you there with this amazing family, building your business, enriching your life and expanding your reach.
Let’s go out there and make a difference.
All the best,
And more, more, more.