Socrates said, “The unaware life is not worth living.” I found that quote as part of a daily devotion recently, and instantly my brain traveled down two parallel rabbit holes.
First, I am reminded of one of my professors from graduate school. I attended Western Carolina University to get my master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders. (They have an amazing grad program for this, by the way. I highly recommend it!) This professor used to talk about how you’re unable to not know something once you know it. In other words, once you’re aware of something, whether it be a specific fact or a skill, you can’t un-know it.
As it relates to speech pathology, he was referencing being aware of certain speech sound disorders, fluency disorders or voice abnormalities. Once a speech path hears these in another person’s speech, we can’t not hear them, diagnose, etc. “Don’t you wish you could turn it off sometimes,” he’d ask.
In fact, this knowing and observation is exactly what graduate school trains us to do! “Listen to this speech sample and make note of what you hear. Then discuss with your partner.”
And since school I’ve tried to do this with my husband at times when we’re in crowds of people.
“Did you hear that frontal lisp?”
Or, “I wonder if that child is too old to be using velar fronting.”
He cringes, hoping no one has heard me, and I can’t blame him. But this training is so ingrained and so interesting to me that it’s hard to turn it off, to un-know it. I have, however, learned to ask these questions internally rather than risking offending a listener.
The second rabbit hole was in considering a God-focused worldview. To me, everything in the natural world around me, as well as occurrences in my daily life, point to the existence and love of God. Once I was truly aware of Him, I couldn’t look at the world the same way. I couldn’t be made unaware.
I grew up going to church with my family, but I don’t think God became real to me until after college. My story isn’t one of a momentary conversion (“And from that moment on, I knew God was real.”) because I have always believed in God and His Son, Jesus. Rather, I began to see how He worked in my life in the day to day. I was worried about my job (“Is this where I’m supposed to be working?”) and my future (“Am I going to be alone forever?”), and when I would pray about it (because, from my upbringing, I knew I was supposed to cast my cares upon Jesus), I felt peace come over me. I felt that even if I didn’t have all of the answers and I was a worried ball of stress, I wasn’t alone in that. I was never abandoned, and there was a plan – even if I couldn’t see it. (More to come about planning and faith in my life – whew!)
And just like that, I began to hear that still small voice a little bit each day. The more I heard whispered to me (“You’re not alone,” “It will all be ok in the end,”), the more I listened. And the more I listened, the more I tuned down my worries to trust in Him (“It sounds like He knows what He’s doing”).
Please don’t get me wrong, I am a worrier. Ask my mom, my girlfriends, my husband. They can all tell you that I worry and stress and fret … frequently. But, when I do remember to just be still and listen, I am always met with a message of reassurance (“Be still and know that I am God,” “I have plans for you”). And to me, that takes some of the pressure off. I am not in charge (thank goodness). I don’t have to have all of the answers (thank goodness!). I can find peace in knowing that He is in control (THANK GOODNESS!).
Now that I know that to be true, and I am aware that God is working in my life, there’s no way I can un-know it. The unaware life is just not worth living. You’re right, Socrates.