If only I’d have known! Scarcely a day goes by in which we do not bewail the limitations of our understanding. If only I’d known why she said the things she said . . . If only I’d known why he acted the way he did . . . If only I knew why I’m behaving the way I am . . .

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for the boundaries of human knowledge. The fact that we don’t know everything gives us the space and the freedom to make decisions in our lives. Poets and prosaists alike would agree that it is the ambiguities of life that make it worth living.

But not knowing also limits us. Isn’t there some way to know and not to know at the same time?

Indeed there is. That’s why G‑d gave us a subconscious.

“Everything that exists on land,” says the Talmud, “also exists in the sea.” The Kabbalists apply this law in a broader sense as well, explaining that the whole of reality can be divided into two realms: “the revealed worlds” and “the hidden worlds.”

The sea is the mystical twin of land. The sea has mountains and canyons, rivers and weather systems, and living organisms of every type and form imaginable; but everything is submerged within its watery depths, almost completely hidden from inquisitive eyes (we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean floors of our own planet). By the same token, the physical world is mirrored by a hidden spiritual universe, and our conscious mind is but a reflection of the hidden, subconscious chambers of our souls.

“Everything that exists on land also exists in the sea.” Every element in the revealed worlds has its corresponding reality in the hidden worlds. The two may be as externally different as horses and seahorses, yet they are nevertheless linked in some mysterious way. Thus, when we negotiate our lives with the “terrestrial” part of our psyche, we are also drawing on the vast reservoir of knowledge and intuition stored in its oceans.

What joins these two worlds? An old, old memory: a memory of the day when the sea split open to reveal what lay within.

Our sages tell us that when the Red Sea split for the Children of Israel, all the waters of the world split as well. The waters of the Amazon split and the waters of the Mississippi split, as did the waters in all the swimming pools in the Hamptons and all the hot tubs in California, all the watercoolers in Manhattan and all the teakettles in China. The great murky sea of heaven split open to reveal its secrets to all. And the deep, deep sea of the human soul split in two, and for a brief moment all its contents were exposed to the light of day.

Then the waters of creation returned to engulf their sea-worlds, and life reverted to the glorious ambiguity which it is. But the memory of that day lingers on, forming a tenuous bridge between the hidden and the revealed.