Path into the Unknown: Dealing with Uncertainty

path into the unknown

Falling into the Unknown

Finding ourselves on the path into the unknown rattles us. Remember the past? Life felt predictable, consistent, secure, and we knew the rules of engagement. Whether we were absorbed in an established career, off on a wild adventure, or contemplating a life change, we felt comfortable where we were, with a reasonable sense of control. When things didn’t go as planned, we knew how to get back on our feet.

We didn’t expect a sudden, massive tectonic shift, the magnitude of which we have never experienced. And the repercussions continue. Many people are experiencing profound grief, loss, and despair. It brings out the best and the worst in people.

We don’t yet know where this transition is taking us. We seek comfort and relief from uncertainty by recalling the good old days, when things were “normal.” Every time we tell the story we unconsciously change small bits. Because we remember only our last version when we retell it, the errors compound. Similarly we forget that the past got us to the present.

Cracking Up

Upheavals like this, crack us open. They expose our vulnerabilities, and induce permanent changes to the way we work and live. We’re touched on a personal, cultural, and global level. They present opportunities unavailable to us only a short time ago.

Patching gives an illusion of security, but also a sense of hope. As a result, it may get us over the initial shock and help us grapple with the enormity of what’s in front of us. But it’s not sustainable. Doing what we’ve always done, no longer works. Learning lessons from the past help us grow. Getting trapped in nostalgia prevents us from moving forward. It blinds us to unexpected opportunities.

We hold on in subtle ways. My stack of journals goes back to 2007. I’ve moved them three times, always thinking I may need to go back and look up some creative brainwave. The truth is, the thoughts I scribbled in the past were relevant for that moment, not today. All those words hold energy that can be put to better use. I’ve pulled the journals out and staged them to be burned and liberated, with gratitude, at an upcoming fire.

Taking the Next Step

Cracks also let the light in and show us possibilities. For example, several friends have realized that the job that once seemed vital, was not fulfilling. They’re planning on moving into something completely different where they can find meaning and make a contribution beyond the material. Others have recognized the need to slow down and spend more time with friends, family, and even alone.

Who would have thought so many people could work remotely, effectively? Or that we could have virtual appointments with our family doctors and specialists? Yoga classes are now on Zoom. The hour I spent walking there and back through town I can now spend walking in nature. I’m starting to write fiction, which I never expected. Who says only non-fiction can touch hearts and inspire change?

What seemed inconceivable only a few months ago, is now imaginable. Our priorities have shifted. We’ve seen that we can’t take anything for granted. We’re forced into dealing with uncertainty, but isn’t change the way of nature?

We can step up and take part in the transformation or wait for it to overtake us. Either way, one day we’ll look back at to now and recognize, with awe, the moment it began.

What’s changing for you? What opportunities do you see? Share them in the comments.

Photo credit: Bernd Thaller on / CC BY-NC


Healer, author, and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

16 Comments on “Path into the Unknown: Dealing with Uncertainty

  1. Well said Liz. It feels like such a immense shake-up and, as a result, every systemic weakness has been exposed.
    But yes, new strengths and different directions are also being revealed.

    • Thanks Colleen. Many weaknesses, even those we weren’t aware of or were blind to, being exposed. Now it’s up to us to take the opportunity to do something!

    • An opportunity for all of us to pause, reflect, hopefully reset and refresh. Would be a shame if not for the first time, we don’t take advantage of this unfortunate circumstance. After all, how much stuff do I actually need both inside and outside. Thanks for the post Liz

  2. It was only recently that a friend close enough to see my foibles and call me on them was able to suggest that I might be stuck in the “What Ifs” of the past. Nostalgia had indeed become a trap that I had blindly stumbled into. Once I was able to see it, I was able to make the healthy decision to move on. Life is ever changing, and so the past we remember, as you mention in your article, Liz. Time to embrace the present and the future. It is bright.

  3. Dear Liz,

    Grazie mille (a thousand thanks) for sharing your keen insights and thoughtful response to these transformative times. Once again, I’m heartened by your perspective, and elated to know that you are exploring other new roads, in particular writing fiction. May your words flow smoothly and help to sustain you. And may your stay healthy — and safe.

    con affetto dal Blue Ridge,

  4. Thanks as always, for your insights. I especially needed to read ( hear) your words today. I am indeed “stuck” in the past. Trying to find my way forward, in a way that I have yet to figure out. But now, I’m doing it with a presence of mind that I did not have before I read your words. ❤️

    • Thank you for your touching words,Marjorie. We can still carry those cherished memories with us. Holding you in my heart as you navigate. <3

  5. Wow! what a great story of my last 3 months as well. This week was a beginning of three of my volunteers positions, the Tuck Shop in this bldg & the Benefit Shop to day. I must say I had some difficulty with the “new norm” wearing a mask using hand sanitizer & keeping your distance in small quarters. Many volunteers are reluctant to come back but my love for MCC weighed over my trepidations & how the shop was so organized by the staff with many changes & having to do things different. Hope you are staying safe & healthy Liz.
    Thanks again for your thoughts.

  6. Thanks Liz. Yes, hopefully we are at a pivot point in our thinking and our practices…we are not in ” control” of this planning, letting go. I am looking forward to your fiction! My first love of fiction short stories remains : Alice Munro, but I’ll be interested in checking out your suggestions! Love your picture in todays piece, just where I need to be!

    • I haven’t sought out fiction in a long time, and the last time I read fiction short stories was probably in Gr.10 English. I’m exploring a variety of authors and writing styles to familiarize with the genre and what appeals to me. And to learn from good writers. 🙂 Thanks Shirley.

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