I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.
-C. JoyBell C., The Sun is Snowing
Knowing what things are and why they are there gives order to my universe. I’m not change-averse, but I’m also not terribly spontaneous. Ask Dave about traveling with me. I’ve moved around a fair bit in my life (from house to house if not city to city) and I like that kind of change. Moving takes planning, it’s seldom spontaneous, and there’s plenty of time to work out the details. I’ve moved for work, I’ve moved for love, I’ve moved for both a growing and a shrinking family. The hardest move I ever made was leaving Baltimore, a city where I spent the most significant years of my adult life.
In that move to Atlanta, I knew where I was going, and why. But every single other thing was a mystery yet to be uncovered. I didn’t know what I might do, or where I’d do it. I didn’t know who would become my friends. The uncertainty of that situation was quite intimidating, but I held on, I didn’t panic, I got the knack of flying into that wind. Right now, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
In the larger world, we are all facing complete uncertainty. Not only do we not know if life will ever seem ‘normal’ again, we don’t know who will live or die. We don’t know if we’ll ever go back to our jobs, or if our kids will go back to school before next fall. We don’t know if this virus will subside with warmer weather. We truly are “suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight.”
All I can offer you is the wisdom gained from my previous experiences with uncertainty. If all we do is sit and worry and watch the news, we'll be stuck in Anxiety Land. We must learn to “force our wings to unravel and begin our flight.” What that looks like for you, I cannot say.
Here’s another quote from Pema Chodron that sums up what it looks like for me.
Sticking with uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic---this is the spiritual path.
-Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart
Suggestion: If you have not read Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, this is a very good time to take the plunge. Or, if that’s an old friend, try Comfortable with Uncertainty. Both of these books are talismans for me in times of uncertainty, grief and fear.
Radical Self Care
One of the best ways to calm our minds is to bring ourselves back into our bodies. This is one of the great truths from the Alexander Technique. In a time where we are desperately lacking human touch, here’s a way to take care of that need and take care of your soul as well.
Take a grooming activity that you do every day - brushing your hair, brushing your teeth, washing your face, putting on lotion - you choose.
Now, do that activity for yourself as if you were doing it for someone else you love.
Remember how it felt when your mother brushed your hair, or your lover applied lotion to your skin. Treat yourself with loving kindness. Take your time and allow yourself to experience the sensation of being touched.
What if we did that for ourselves every day?
Are you trying these daily exercises? How are they working for you? Which ones do you like best? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line and let me know, or put it in the comments below.