Sometimes it’s clear that we are in a state of transition – leaving a job or relationship, graduating college, getting married, moving across the country, having a baby… in these cases, we know we are leaving behind a familiar life to enter into a new one. What we don’t always see so readily is that we are always in transition. Our bodies, our reality, our relationships, minds and ideas are continually morphing and evolving.
Other people fill us with their fears, worries, or faith, which may or may not be helpful. Each of us is living in the unknown, uncertain of what’s to come. Most of us don’t like to admit or accept that. So, we do what we can to control, to create some level of imagined certainty.
We make decisions and choices, take actions trying to ensure the outcome we desire, unwilling to admit we can only take the next best step for the best chance of the things we hope for. There is freedom in accepting that truth.
The only things that are known or certain are those things that have already happened.
And, so, what keeps us going? Why do we continue to show up? I guess because the unknown also offers the possibility of things beyond our imagination. Our negativity bias causes us to focus on what could go wrong, but at the same time our spirit and soul call us to what could be wonderful or amazing.
Knowing is actually way less interesting than we admit. Who would watch a multi-hour sports event or movie if they knew how it was going to end? (Well, unless, like me, you’ve seen it before and you don’t remember or you don’t care because the story is so enthralling!).
We spend hours of worry about how our lives or our loved ones’ lives will go. We humans are fascinating! Playing this game of strategy and faith, effort and flow, making moves, taking chances, riding on hope. And, there it is again, that mighty force that some call weak.
Hope encourages us, supports us to say yes to the proposal, to take the stage, to leave the toxic relationship and head out on our own. To put down the drink or drug that has consistently brought comfort to see if there might be a better life without it. The hope that tomorrow will be a better day nudges us forward. Something has to push us, pull us to leave the known and risk the vast uncertainty of the unknown. To wake up and step into a new day and see where it takes you.
“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”
― Patrick Overton, The leaning tree
My favorite days are “Let’s see where the spirit takes us” days. Days with absolutely no plans, and where we let go of control, just checking in moment by moment to see what we’d like to do. What we want to eat? Is this a time to rest, read, or go for a walk? What adventure calls to our hearts? What might be fun? What would feel comforting and nourishing?
To find the ability to flow with it, gently, sweetly, one moment at a time. Not needing an agenda. Not needing to know. It can be uncomfortable, but it can also be wonderfully delightful when I pause and listen within, feel into the longing of my heart and soul, let go of the worry of wasted time.
This is where I sit right now. Is this a day to relax and write? To bake? To go to a movie? In the sweetness of no schedule, I don’t know. And, I am savoring the unknown. It gives me permission to decide, to choose, to see… These are my favorite days. The ones not dictated by meetings, classes, work, commitments, or appointments. They are a rare gift in a busy world. “Seizing” this day does not mean it has to be productive or anything other than what it is. It only asks me to show up and be with it, as it is, as it unfolds.
And, yet, feeling the uncertainty of our future, having just watched the memorial video of a young man gone too son, compels me to invite us all to live a life we will remember. To love openly, to care deeply, to hug our people, to capture memories, and make new ones. This life is so precious because of its uncertainty. We don’t have to strive to make things happen, but we don’t want to miss what’s here.
What grounds you as you find yourself swirling in the midst of uncertainty? What helps you stay steady as you step into the great unknown? What practices do you have that hold you most reliably when times are tough? For me, meditation, morning pages, yoga, getting outdoors in the beauty of nature bring me home, and connecting with those I love is critical.
What does it mean to you to live a life you will remember? What’s calling you? What feels most meaningful and important these days? Has that changed over the years? I know, for me, I have little desire to go back to how I used to be when I was much younger. And I do long to step into my next chapter from a place of purpose and joy.
A few recommendations and invitations for you:
Katrina Kenison writes beautifully about life and its various stages, looking at transitions and life changes. I have recently finished Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment, a beautiful book for women in midlife, changing roles and relationships with growing children, finding themselves again after career and parenting change. I highly recommend this as well as The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir of Letting Go. Both books and her blogs, which are beautiful and thought-provoking, call us to be present to the everyday moments as our lives and relationships grow, evolve, and become their next version.
Here are a couple of musical accompaniments for this life journey:
The Nights by Avicii – “Live a life you will remember!”
I Did It All by Vince Myers