The Un-Serious Imagination

My friend was struggling yesterday with how to reply to someone from a dating site whom he didn’t find attractive. He is too nice not to respond. Didn’t want to hurt the girls feelings.

I struggled with something similar when I got responses from guys who would say things like, “I’m not looking for a serious relationship at the moment. I don’t know if I am ready for it right now”…. on the third email! Wait, did I put a post in the ‘casual encounters’ section of Craigslist? No. He proclaimed that he was going to respect my decision as to whether I wanted to “go ahead with this”. How do you respond to that? Should you? These un-serious boys are a dime a dozen. There is nothing exciting, interesting, unique or courageous about them. It’s not that they are not ready for a ‘serious’ relationship, they all want magical love or they would not have responded. It is that they are not ready to make serious choices. Their imagination gets the best of them. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors but what they have in common is uncertainty. In fact I should not call them un-serious, I should call them uncertain. Maybe un-experienced, un-willing, un-confident, or un-realistic. This was JJ. From the word go.

What makes my friend unique is that he is uncommonly kind. What holds him back from what he needs is that he believes that he knows what that is. He is struggling with a job change right now because it’s not exactly what he wants. He said it’s difficult because everything has been handed to him on a plate – school and work. Now, having to make real life choices, that are not optimal, is difficult. If he doesn’t take the dive, life will do it for him and send him back to India without his treasured coin collection.

Diving into the unknown when you are uncertain, feeling unprepared and have no guarantees is the real test of life. Waiting for someone to hand you exactly what you think you need is the path that will lead you back to the same place over and over again. Let us not confuse serious (a serious relationship) with confidence. We need not be unsure because things are unknown. The one thing you can be sure of is that all of your future is unknown.

I think we are all uncertain about what we want, and we should be. It is only when you stop pretending that you know exactly what you want, or start realizing that it’s okay that you don’t know, that you will be ready for a real connection with someone. And it will lead you to extraordinary places you never imagined.

What the smartest people in the world – the scientists, the sages, the zen monks – tell us is that true knowledge is admitting that you don’t know.


Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
(Albert Einstein)


Perhaps JJ and I should have had fewer discussions on relationships and more on physics. Let me suggest two lovely books to you lost boys:

At an Esalen Institute meeting in 1976, tai chi master Al Huang said that the Chinese word for physics is Wu Li, “patterns of organic energy.” Journalist Gary Zukav and the others present developed the idea of physics as the dance of the Wu Li Masters–the teachers of physical essence. Zukav explains the concept further: The Wu Li Master dances with his student. The Wu Li Master does not teach, but the student learns. The Wu Li Master always begins at the center, the heart of the matter…. This book deals not with knowledge, which is always past tense anyway, but with imagination, which is physics come alive, which is Wu Li…. 

-Good Reads

In this irreverent and illuminating book, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, change, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious cases, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.


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