Knowing what things are not

In my travels, I have found that people know how to do something but don’t know precisely what they are doing. They may know the end result of their actions but the process eludes them. However, they do know everything they are not doing. This knowledge of what something isn’t is just as important as knowing what something is. Take a car engine for example, anyone with even just a little bit of knowledge can figure out the issue by knowing what isn’t the issue. 

One of the first tools in math that is taught is estimating an unknown, guessing the unknown through the knowledge of what it can’t be or the knowledge given. This is a clear, societal example of how knowing what something isn’t is a necessary skill. You can know how to do a task, but you can only teach it and fix the mistakes if you know how it doesn’t work. When I vacationed on the Italian coast, wasting the days away, I met an old man who fixed classic cars. He had no experience whatsoever, but he knew how things didn’t work which gave him the knowledge he needed to become the most successful car mechanic in West Spain. 

Everything people do in life is based on knowing what the thing they are going to do isn’t. If you learn how to ride a bike, you know it’s not a car so it’s definitely easier. People form opinions based on what they know things are not. They will never know what everything is, so then they know what things are not and understand the world from there. 

The only way to understand life is to know what it is not. Life is not death, life is not waste, but what life is is to much to define. When life gives you lemons, you are expected to make lemonade, but what if you don’t know what lemons or lemonade is? Then the question becomes, what aren’t they? This is the most natural way to view new things, ideas, opinions, etc.  Anytime you encounter something new, you understand what it is by understanding what it is not. This is the most important skill to learn in life, for if the knowledge of what a thing isn’t is eluding, then what knowledge can be obtained?