I’ve always loved adventure. But there’s an odd dissonance inside me: I’ve always hated uncertainty.
I dislike suspense more than anyone I know. I read the end of the book before I can settle into the story. I read the spoilers so I can relax and enjoy the movie, even when I know it will end badly. I want to know now if you like me. Are you going to fall in love with me soon? When?
Ah, but wait! I have an equal desire to know if you feel some other way; if you don’t like me, if we’re not a fit, if this isn’t the direction you want to go.
I want to know what grade I got, what someone thinks of my work, what their decision is on anything that involves me.
In other words, although I usually DO care what the answer is, I care MUCH more about HAVING the answer, whatever it is. I want the answer so I can begin to adjust to what’s next.
I have some pretty solid understanding of why I’m like this, but I’m not sure that’s a topic for this post. Whatever the source of this is, I became a woman who wants to know how her world is working. It doesn’t have to go my way, I just have to know which way it’s going. I have to understand it, and I keep learning and looking until I can come to some kind of conclusion. It doesn’t have to go the same way all the time, either….that’s boring.
This isn’t in all areas of my life; in fact, I’m quite content putting off some kinds of decisions until the correct answer/direction becomes apparent. But when it comes to situations that impact my heart or who’s in my life in what capacity, the weight of uncertainty can make me feel like I’m suffocating.
An unfortunate side effect of all this is that sometimes I force it to go somewhere, anywhere, just to know where it’s going. The problem with that is that sometimes it’s not ready to go there. Sometimes it needs to just be however it is until the correct answer/direction becomes apparent. How many things have I ruined by forcing them out of their cocoons before they’re strong enough to fly?
Yesterday I caught myself trying to shove something forward in a relationship. It was ridiculous of me to do that. I mean, have you seen my life!? Today I realized I did this because I’m dealing with so much uncertainty with my Dad and with all the other changes going on in my life, that I suddenly needed something, anything, to feel like solid ground. I’m lucky that the person recognized I’m just overwhelmed and graciously cut me some slack.
The past 17 months have been a huge lesson for me in learning to sit with uncertainty, learning that forcing things forward, whatever forward looks like, can frighten others I don’t want to lose enough to make them or me flee.
Several friends have been brilliant gifts to me, seeing this in me and teaching me how to view and interact with my world in a different way. A conversation with a wonderful friend about this tendency to eliminate uncertainty made me ask myself these things when I find myself wanting to force things forward…
Are you enjoying this moment? Are you enjoying your interactions? Are you creating memories you’re going to look back and treasure? Are you learning something? Is there value in slowing down and paying attention right now, even if it’s painful?
I’m not very good yet with this, although it’s ever-present in my mind…hence my poor choice in the tired ache of last night’s darkness.
I always thought at best I would learn to live with uncertainty, but never did I think I’d appreciate it.
Until now, until this afternoon, when washing my face all of a sudden washed the clouds from my eyes. Looking in the mirror, I stopped the swirling frustrating fight, and suddenly started to appreciate the very uncertainty I’ve always detested.
See, right now, I don’t know how long my Dad has. It may be moments, it may be weeks. But I don’t know, I can’t know, he doesn’t know. No one knows. What’s happening because of this very uncertainty is an intimate awareness of the gift of each moment I have with him. Each breathe he draws, each time he responds, each day he opens his eyes means the world to me. I don’t actually WANT to know when it’s going to end because not knowing forces me to grab onto every moment of uncertainty I can get.
Finally, after a lifetime of struggling against uncertainty, not only is the weight of uncertainty bearable, it’s a comforting blanket keeping me warm in the face of some very cold realities.
~ cj 2012.05.12