1. A state or situation in which something is not known, or something that is not known or certain.
“Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Fall. Winter. Spring.
Dusk. Night. Dawn.
It’s not personal, it’s just the Way of Things.
Cheers to all those in the pain or the waiting tonight.
Spring is coming.
We can do hard things.”
The illusion of security was stripped away from me in one brutal stroke, when my husband died suddenly just after our first child was born. In one instant everything I thought I knew and could count on vanished and I found myself floating anchorless; lost in space.
To survive this I had to learn how to live in what I named the “I don’t know place”. Tibetan Buddhists call it a bardo. In 12-step programs it’s a hallway (that place you hang out when one door has closed but the other hasn’t opened yet). What started as a desperate survival tactic, learning how to relax into the inevitable ebb and flow of life ended up being a profound gift.
Nancy Levin says “honor the space between no longer and not yet”. It’s that place where we’ve let go of something – either by choice or by necessity – and the next thing hasn’t quite shown up yet. Stay there and resist the compulsion to grasp at something…anything…to quench that awfully uncomfortable feeling that arises when we are in the I Don’t Know place. By sitting still we give opportunities that our frightened minds can’t imagine the time and space to unfold. By not succumbing to fear we begin to see that the space between what was and what will be is ripe with possibility.
Making friends with uncertainty was hard to do and it might be the best thing I ever did. It helped my feet find solid ground again and my anchor is the security I found within myself. It was there all along – I just didn’t know it until I had to look.
“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it”.
“It’s ok to feel unsure. It’s fine not to know. Keep in mind that uncertainty doesn’t last forever. Clarity always shows up for us.”
“I have devoted my life to uncertainty. Certainty is the death of wisdom, thought, creativity.”
“Don’t worry about a thing ‘cause every little thing is gonna be all right.”