I don’t know about you, but I often want to know exactly how things are going to turn out. I want some kind of a guarantee. I want a map. A good one. And I want assurances that I am on the right track. Something that says, “Here’s how to do it, and here’s how it will all turn out.” And P.S., you will be OK through it all.
This is all so very, very human. And so very, very short-sighted.
It is not a surprise that many of us would characterize the times we are living in as uncertain. Certainly, you can find lots and lots of support for this just by listening to the daily news. It might even feel as though we are living in perhaps the most uncertain times ever in the history of man. This leaves many of us terrified, stressed, angry, jaded and overwhelmed. And I think we might be hard-pressed to find too many people who would welcome, and even thrive on the uncertainty we are facing.
And yet, what if we could? What if what we need most right now is the ability, personally and collectively, to create through, and with, the uncertainty?
It puts me in mind of my daughter who called last June very upset because the house she was to be moving into in a matter of a few short weeks, had had an electrical fire. That meant that she would not be able to move in until September. At best. She was very distressed not knowing what was going to happen. Where she was going to live. What this meant for her summer plans. If the house would even be ready in the fall for when school started back.
At some point, however, she caught up to the situation, and began to embrace the reality that the certainty she had been counting on, was gone. The question then became, “what next?” Surprisingly enough, with uncertainty fully embraced, she set up an amazing experience for herself in the Northwest Territories of Canada where she lived in a yurt and met great people, all while interning for a farm whose mission it is to bring greater food awareness and security into a part of the world deficient in this. She learned a ton of new skills. She spent time in a magnificent landscape. And she grew.
Even better? Upon arriving home, not only was the house ready weeks before school started, but it had been rehabbed back into a far better condition than what she had signed up for. She described it as feeling like she had moved into a brand new place! Not only that, but she saved money as no rent was charged for several months.
Win. Win. Win.
But none of this would have happened if she had fallen into fear or despair over the uncertainty of her situation. And that’s the trick. Recognizing that when the unexpected strikes, if we can gather ourselves long enough to be open to an opportunity, something amazing might just be born out of the uncertainty. As crazy as it may seem when we find ourselves uncomfortable or afraid, this is what is available. Always. Believe it or not, it is available around political polarization, climate change, violence, job loss, illness, and any of the other personal and collective uncertainties we are facing.
This is not easy to see or to do. But the truth is, life is uncertain. Every second of every day. It’s just that we have gotten so used to a certain level of predictability and orderliness that we forget, that like any creature on the planet, we too are subject to the laws of chaos, change and uncertainty.
But what if we embraced this? What if instead of fear, despair, outrage and overwhelm, we chose to say “Yes” as quickly as we could, followed by, “What is possible here?” What if seeing uncertainty not only as a hard and fast reality, but also as a highly creative partner, a kind of muse, became our new narrative? A force in Life not meant to tear us down, create defeat, pessimism and victimization, but instead an opening to possibility.
How then would you look at what is in front of you now? How then would you look at what is happening on the world stage?