It’s been said that the only thing certain – is uncertainty. That’s as good a reason as any to hoover the rest of that cheesecake before dinner. Or maybe even make it dinner. But it doesn’t solve every problem, like say, those last five pounds you’ve been trying to lose. We’ve all learned, that even if we treat ourselves now, it won’t fill that cavern in pit of our stomach called ‘uncertainty’. That echoing vacuum has nothing to do with a yummy dessert or new pair of really great earrings (although they would be tempting). We try to fill the spaces, albeit temporarily, while we wait for the other shoe to drop.
And, somehow, drop it usually does.
Talking about that ‘other shoe’ was something I did a lot, because it usually fell – a lot. I’ve realized, after all these years and a lot of shoes, that some of that falling footgear was not always a crisis or a negative but a necessary. When Ernestine Ulmer quipped that “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first” I wonder where she was in her life. I’m pretty sure, wherever she was, the realization that everything in life is uncertain was pretty clear. Or maybe she just really loved dessert.
There are some things in our control and a whole lot that’s not. Control is an illusion. We can’t control the weather, the traffic, or someone else’s behavior. We can’t control cancer outcomes or pretty much anything really important. We buy insurance, we carry umbrellas and chug vitamins but nothing really cements a feeling of certainty. It’s a constant pervasive source of anxiety, and frustration. We start a new job, a new business. We become pregnant. We get married. Uncertainty is just one decision away.
Life can only be understood backward but must be lived forward. Soren Kierkagaard
But, uncertainty can also make us stronger. To go into the fray, not knowing for sure what’s around the corner, the next door or next year, but to do it anyway demands courage – and a certain trust in ourselves. If we refuse to be a passive player in our lives, just waiting for life to happen to us, the unknown might be even scarier. The bigger the leap into the unknown, the bigger the feeling of accomplishment, confidence and strength in your own instinct and hard work.
I say this with full knowledge that I haven’t been the most fearless of people. I’ve always been afraid of the creepy ‘what if’s’. I’ve felt sure that the other high heeled sandal would surely fall if I ventured. It’s kept me from travel, from joining things, and an assortment of experiences that might have been really wonderful. Yet, I did take a chance on getting married again. I went on a gratis 10-day soiree to California a few months after my husband died. I started a business (a few, actually) and ran it for years. I’m sure I can find more than a few things I jumped into not knowing where I would land, but those are not what I think of when I face a new challenge without certainty of outcome.
Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward. Victor Kaim
Life is a crazy lottery. No one knows when your number will come up. If you live with your life on ‘Pause’, you might miss all the good parts that continuity brings. Nobody knows what’s around the corner. The real regrets will always be from what you didn’t do.
Fear of the unknown is just a part of human nature and whatever we can do to get a little peace and calm we do in spades. We become more compassionate and understanding of those around us if we’ve faced challenges in our own uncertain worlds. There were many paths I could have taken that were easier, surer. Maybe having more education would have made my path to graphic design and creative direction much easier than jumping into that career without it. Maybe I could have said ‘no, I changed my mind’ to a fiancée who discovered he had cancer again 3 months before our wedding. But I didn’t. And I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t taken those leaps into mega uncertainty.
The cure for grief is motion. Elbert Hubbard
Sometimes, before we can go forward, we to come to a full stop. And nothing makes you stop more catastrophically than the sudden loss of the one you love. You are frozen in place, both feet planted on shifting sand. Life, as you knew it, is gone and the new one is more than uncertain. But if you stay there, in that place of paralysis, you just might miss the desserts life still might have in store. Wherever you are, whatever uncertainties lay ahead each day, try to just embrace the moment if not the day.
And for God’s sake — eat the damn dessert.