Monday, July 10, 2017

Living With Uncertainty ...

Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.

Henri Frederic Amiel

Hello Everyone,

Again, it's been quite a while since I've been able to write here. I've been spending many hours a day working with the frozen shoulder that resulted from last year's fall and arm fractures and, more recently, I've also been working to find a new home after my landlords of 22 years decided to stop renting my half of the house (!) (Fortunately, neither situation has interfered with my ability to continue the teaching I love and plans are well underway for the fall workshops.)

As one who has always been more comfortable with a predictable life, this has been a time of uncomfortable uncertainty, a threshold time of limbo, angst and hope. Like all thresholds, it holds both anxiety and possibility. While I'm concerned about when my arm will heal and where my new home will be, allowing myself to live into the threshold experience has brought its own gifts. After the initial panic, I've found myself slowing down, waiting, and exercising (at least a modicum of) patience; spending more time with options and possibilities; and opening more to trust and synchronicity. It's been a liminal time of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g and learning new responses to uncertainty and unpredictability.

Any time we humans find ourselves in the in-between place of uncertainty, a time when the familiar has already disappeared but the new hasn't yet arrived, we tend to experience a full range of uncomfortable reactions - fear, anger, irritability, grief, rigidity, forgetfulness, paralysis, loss of humour, aggression, fatigue, vulnerability and disorganization, to name but a few. If we can allow ourselves to tolerate, and even lean into the sources of this discomfort, and WAIT, we will probably find that it is also a time of hope and creativity.

Waiting in the threshold is an active kind of waiting. We pause as long as need be and then slowly put one foot in front of the other, trusting that we will see each next logical step as we move ahead. (As the poet, Antonio Machado, says the way is made by walking.)  This "active waiting" requires a great deal of presence, mindfulness, trust and listening, an openness to what is and to what might be. It asks us to be willing to risk living at the growing edge and being uncomfortable. It forces us to relinquish our desire for certainty and control and to walk into the fog of unknowing.

For many of us, questions like these help to guide us into and through the fog:

1.  How can I calm my body so I can think clearly?
2.  What do I want/need? What are the deep desires of my heart?
3.  Where am I now and where might I be headed?
4.  What is the meaning of this time? Why this and why now?
5.  How can I step outside the box of my habitual patterns and see this situation with "beginner's eyes"?
6.   What/whom will sustain me in this in-between place so my imagination and creativity can flourish?
7.   In what/whom can I trust and abide deeply to provide a supportive sense of hope?

Questions like these expand our awareness and help us to make better decisions as we make our way forward. Whether you're facing the uncertainty of job loss, a loved one's illness, the loss of a partner, economic uncertainty or other imposed change, may such questions help you to feel your way toward more certain times.