It is extremely easy to get things wrong.
I had an experience last week that pounded that reality into my brain.
What happened was I fell over and bounced my head off the ground during a hockey match… or at least that’s what I’ve been told.
I don’t remember the play leading up to the fall, the fall itself or talking with my teammates as they checked me over and helped me off the pitch.
They say I never actually closed my eyes, but all the same, I had a real eye-opener soon after I realised I was no longer in the game.
There I was sitting on the sidelines with strange coats wrapped around me talking to people I’d never met before when I realised I didn’t know how I got there.
Then, when I asked what had happened, each person gave me a different answer.
One thought I had blacked out and then fallen over, another thought I’d been hit in the head with a hockey stick and another thought the ball had bashed into my skull.
A doctor who was on the scene to watch her son play said she thought I might have gone down because I’d twisted my knee and that I’d then gone into shock because of the pain.
They were all fairly certain my head had not hit the ground with any force but there were no ball or stick marks on it and my knee didn’t hurt at all.
When the half ended the player closest to me on the pitch at the time of my fall said I had slipped while playing the ball, went over on my right side and bounced my head off the artificial turf.
The doctor said if that was the case then my dizziness and memory loss made perfect sense.
There was enough disagreement about what happened, however, for her to insist on me going to the hospital for a full set of tests.
Fortunately the results indicated nothing more interesting than a mild concussion caused by a blow to the head.
The really fascinating thing though was the fact that four spectators who had been watching the match couldn’t agree on what had happened, and none saw what actually did.
That would have been understandable if I’d fallen away from the action but evidently I went down while playing the ball so that’s what they were most probably watching.
Obviously this experience points out the danger of putting too much weight on eye-witness evidence in police investigations and court hearings, but I also think there is something here that we can apply to our everyday lives.
It has to do with being open to the possibility that at most times and in most circumstances we could be wrong – even when we are dead certain we know what we are talking about.
It also has to do with throwing in a bit of doubt when we take on second hand information from people who are sure they know what they are talking about.
I’m not saying self-confidence is a bad thing or that we should stop believing in ourselves.
I’m just saying believing and knowing are two different things.
I also think we would all be a lot easier to live with if we were honest with ourselves about how little we know for sure.
Then again, I could be wrong.