Uncertainty is a part of life for everyone. We can defend ourselves against it, using strategies such as denial, manipulation and over-confidence in our ability to control outcomes, but at the end of the day the result is the same: uncertainty is always a factor.
I’m a Type A personality, so I find uncertainty to be an uncomfortable bedfellow. And yet as I practice going with the stream and not against it, I discover a fresh source of peace and contentment. When I believed I was the centre of the universe, by squeezing my eyes shut and willing certain things to occur, I felt more in control of my circumstances. But I paid a high price in stress for this make-believe certainty.
It was never real. Not then, not now. It’s the equivalent of a toddler standing in the middle of the room with her chubby hands pressed against her eye sockets, shouting, “You can’t see me!” I’m embarrassed to say I lived more than three decades of my life with this as a worldview. But the older I get, the clearer my uncertainty becomes.
I’m more certain now in my uncertainty than I ever was in my certainty. I’ve said that before and I’m sure I’ll state it many more times before I’m through. The sheer relief of admitting out loud that I don’t have the answers and I never really did is liberating. It’s the bubbles in a freshly-poured glass of Prosecco. It’s the helium that allows you to soar above your surroundings and see the bigger picture.
Uncertainty means you need faith on a daily basis. It requires you to let go of your preconceived ideas about how any experience or relationship should go and invites you to surrender to what is and not what you want it to be. Living this way allows you to recognize that you are one part of this world and not the whole shebang. You play a small but valuable role but huge amounts of this life are above and beyond what you can influence or manage. And this is more than okay.
I am practicing staying in each moment I am in. I don’t allow myself to forecast far into the future any more, for too much will shift and change and I’ll be forced to re-evaluate anyway. So I may as well just decide once, when the moment is upon me, instead of having fifty outcomes mapped out. It simply takes too much energy to live that way.
If you need permission not to have all the answers, please accept this from me. You are not the world’s Wikipedia. As Rumi said, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” We are marvellously complete, all on our own, but we must live this life to the best of our ability day by day. We don’t have to see around every upcoming bend, simply because we cannot. The job is too big and we are defeated before we begin.
It’s lovely in some ways to live in this age of instant information, but it messes with our natural rhythms. We aren’t sages or fortune tellers. We aren’t certain of what is coming. What we do have is our natural intuition, our sense of humour, our huge, warm hearts that can love without measure. We don’t have certainty of what will happen next or a set prescription for how others should behave.
We are responsible for ourselves and for our dependent children. We can let the rest slide from our shoulders. We can walk away from the drama and the fears of others that spread like wildfire if we let them. We can learn to live with uncertainty; to talk ourselves through it the way we get our kids through difficult situations. By breathing, discussing it in a calm manner, eating a bowl of chips or some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Uncertainty is part of life. We may as well embrace it instead of fighting it.