In a time of uncertainty, I'm realizing that "certainty" is a modern, western construct.
I keep hearing, “in these times of uncertainty”, “in these uncertain times”…. I hear it mentioned so much, it’s like it’s the next news story- as if this idea of “uncertainty” is something new.
And most certainly (pun intended), I will raise my hand and say that since this era of COVID, yes things feel “uncertain.” ALL the changing plans, ALL the missed opportunities, ALL the grief…EVERY.THING. Uncertainty has been the name of the game since Feb/March 2020…
BUT the concept of “certainty”, on the other hand, I believe is actually a modern and western concept.
If you think about it, uncertainty has been around since the start of humankind. As a people, civilizations didn’t know exactly where their food was coming from, if the latest bacteria or parasite was going to kill them, or if animals or other tribes or groups were going to suddenly attack. And of course, more recently now and even before COVID, stories of civil unrest or climate change issues are in the news, ALL around the world.
Even from a spiritual perspective we know uncertainty has always been around because spiritual practices from Buddhism to Christianity have addressed the emotion and fear that comes with uncertainty. Wisdom and guidance such as “be in the moment”, “be still and know that I am God,” “focus on the breath,” “the present is a gift”, etc, are all examples that reflect the human struggle of what was and what will always be.
I believe the problem with, let’s say: “modern uncertainty” is that modern life has created an entire realm of false protection by providing people with endless distractions that keeps us from knowing the reality that we live in, which is that we have always lived in uncertainty. And what the pandemic did, in particular, was to literally limit our access to those distractions.
And so the curtain was pulled back and the truth of uncertainty came rolling right into our lives! Bam! Sort of like the metaphorical dam was opened—and the rush of the water suddenly feels VERY uncomfortable, unfamiliar, sometimes overwhelming, and seemingly surprising for many, who might even say: “where did all this water come from??!” But all along the water was there—it’s just that the dam, or in this case the distractions, prevented the water or truth of uncertainty from coming through.
Do you feel the metaphorical rush of water of uncertainty all around you? Has the anxiety of endless unexpected challenges left you feeling like you are drowning? Well here’s the good news, 1) you’re not the only one feeling this way; and 2) there is something you can do to feel better…
First let’s start with what happens when we don’t have distractions, and feel the full brunt of uncertainty?? We feel super uncomfortable! And then---we try and avoid that discomfort and load up on whatever else we can grab at—you name it. We each have our escapes. And we resist, we resist, we resist—because being uncomfortable is hard!
What I can offer is to ask yourself: “what am I resisting?” “why am I resisting this?”
And then if you allow yourself the space and time to really hear the answers, like a rainbow bridging that metaphorical dam—your Truth comes through!
When we accept that our current situation is uncertain and let in the discomfort instead of trying to avoid it with distraction, the Truth of what is truly going on is allowed to come through.
With truth can come clarity and sometimes also overwhelm—and then of course that familiar discomfort—which then we usually want to push away. And really the first bit of suggestion I can offer is to circle back to that age old wisdom I mentioned earlier—“focus on the breath” and try to be in the moment as much as possible. And of course, if you need some other ideas, I would love to hear from you, firstname.lastname@example.org