The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next. ~Ursula K. Le Guin
In these past weeks, I have been working with an uncomfortable sense of groundlessness, of uncertainty. Not knowing what will come next, unclear about what is really going on, confused and unsure about what to do, unable to control the chaos that is life.
As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity. ~Pema Chödrön
I am uncomfortable and anxious when I can’t be certain and in control. All kinds of ugliness gets triggered by my desire for certainty, my attempt to find a safe place and stay there forever, grasping for a promise of calm and peace, a solid and unshakeable plan, waiting and wishing for someone or something to save me, protect me, keep me.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
…live in the question. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
I wanted to be certain that Dexter was better, okay, fine, nothing to worry about. I even listed him yesterday as my bonus joy, announced that he hadn’t reverse sneezed in a week. And then, this morning on our walk, two loose dogs rushed at us, Dexter got excited and upset and reverse sneezed, giving himself a bloody nose. It’s not that I believed he’d never do it again, in fact I expected it, but I had also made the mistake of hope, hoping that it was done, that at some point the number of days that had passed since the last episode was so many it no longer made sense to count them, and he’d be perfectly and completely happy and healthy until he slipped away of natural causes at about age 14.
But this morning it happened again, and there was blood, and immediately I am right back in not knowing. What is causing it? How do we help him? How many frantic emails and vet visits are reasonable? What is the next step? What else might we try? Should we worry? If they can’t figure out what’s wrong, what then? Will he do this the rest of his life? Will it get worse? Is it cancer? Will he die? When?!
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. ~Pema Chödrön
But I know that the only answer is to relax and be gentle. I need to practice being okay with not knowing, surrender to the chaos, become friends with groundlessness. I have to accept that the only thing I can do is love him, to be here with him now, to not squander the joy of this moment with worry about what might come next.