Path into the Unknown: Dealing with Uncertainty
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.
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.