Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not Knowing

Last year I bought an online Italian Language course. It seemed to me like a perfectly normal and rather exciting thing to do. But when I told friends and family about it, the first thing they asked me was, "Why?" My gut reaction was an incredulous, "Why not?" Why wouldn't I want to be able to communicate with more people in a country that I'm dying to swallow whole?
I'm a chronic and insatiable learner. I've had friends joke that they think I know everything. I just laugh at the absurdity and counter that I Google well. When someone asks me a question and I don't know the answer, I have the instant need to research ad nauseam. I like to know things. I like to know what to plan on and what to plan for, how things work and why they do. No, I was never a boy scout (though I did scout for boys back in the day), but do I like to Be Prepared.
It has been a recurring struggle for me that life is full of not knowing. It doesn't matter how much I research, there will always be mitigating factors, unforeseen changes, and inaccuracies. The older I get and the more professional and well-educated people I meet, the more I realize just how much we don't know. We are so busy trying to convince each other that our way is the way, that we don't stop to think that there are an infinite number of ways, and while our way works well for us, all we can do is make our suggestions, let others take what suits them and do with it what they will. Even the "facts" are just educated guesses anyway.
We are all winging it.

One could easily take this realization and spiral into panic, flailing madly in anxiety, worry and depression over what may or may not be to come. But what good would that do? If I worry over something, does it change the outcome? If I throw enough time and stress into it, will I get an inkling of what is to come? And even if I did see what might happen, would I go forward with it? And If I backed out of that particular experience, would I have any clue of the wonderful things that might have happened or the lessons I would have learned? I think we can safely answer all of those questions with a resounding NO. In worrying, we waste energy and miss out on the present moment.
If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying? ~ Shantideva

Why are we all such silly control freaks, when there is so much we can't control anyway? Don't get me wrong. There are efforts to be made, planning is good, and being prepared is nothing to sneeze at. But we must do all of these things with those infinite unknowable possibilities in mind. We need to acknowledge and even find comfort in the fact that we don't know, we can't know, and life will almost always surprise us. But no matter how brilliantly or badly things go, they go on. We come down from our highs, we brush off the dust, and we keep going. I find comfort and wonder in realizing that, "This too shall pass." Not just the hard times, but the good times too. It helps me to revel in the moment and love where I am, and when I am. Rather than mourning what is gone while it is still here, be where you are. Be ALL there.
When you can embrace uncertainty and sit comfortably in your "I don't knows", that's faith. Faith in yourself, faith in the goodness and intelligence of others, faith in higher purposes, and faith in God. Faith that the world has gone on before you and will go on after you, and faith that you are what and where you are supposed to be.

1 comment:

  1. Profound...! If knowing comes by measuring then the search for an acceptable ruler seems to be part of the equation for certainty. But to find such a ruler one must believe, even if but for a measuring moment, that the ruler is THE most suitable. Belief, even if temporary, seems to precede understanding. Even then, the understanding is relative to that ruler and knowing to the knower? So in the search for useful mental maps is there really an actual terrain? If so then the better the map the better the correlation between one's hope and one's experience. Is faith then, experienced hope? Hope for something better + a willingness to experience + an increasingly accurate analytical ruler -> an increasingly correct faith (the willingness to act on correct belief as if it were reality) -> an increasingly accurate mental map. But knowing or measuring is not necessarily enjoying. Happiness can be another choice all together!