I used to be someone who liked all her ducks in a row.
Hold on. Let me try that again. I am a person who likes my ducks in a row.
About twelve years ago, my ducks were not only not lining up, but the little fuckers were flying all over the place and I’m pretty sure someone was shooting at them.
And since then I have noticed that this happens a lot. Almost like the more I try to line them up, the more the universe laughs at me and says “Think again, Lady.”
When I lost my brother, suddenly and for no reason other than he had a faulty heart, I realized this truth – the only thing written in stone is death. Everything else is fixable. Everything else, you can work with. Everything else is – well, not death.
What I learned was something that comes around to me again and again – there is no such thing as certainty.
And fuuuuck me if that isn’t an incredibly hard thing for me, the duck in a row girl, to be okay with.
Unknowns are hard. I’m pretty sure (certain, even…!) that I’m not alone in that sentiment. I think most of us like some assurance. We like jobs with some security, we like knowing what to expect daily and weekly, we like a little predictability. And that’s all well and good and yep, it’s normal. The months and years and seasons change predictably and we cycle through our day to day lives (mostly) predictably.
It’s what we do when life throws us a curve ball that can be so challenging. I want to learn how to embrace uncertainty. I want to remind myself that I cannot know anything with any absolute certainty and I want to learn to be accepting of that.
Instead of trying to predict the outcome and protect myself from “what if”, I want to look forward with “let’s see”.
I know. Scary AS F. Right?
Life can change in a blink. And yeah, it often changes for the worse. Shit happens, you guys. To me, the expression “everything happens for a reason” is pretty much solid bullshit. Because some stuff you just cannot find one good reason for. Do I need to make a list of all the things that have zero good reasons? I’m sure you have your own – and it’s probably close to mine. Babies dying. Cancer. Mass shootings. My sweet friend who is suffering daily with pain bigger than him. My brother dying at 39 years old. No. Good. Reason.
Bad things don’t come with their own reason built in, you see. The “reason” is only what you decide to take from the experience. What you decide to do with it. How you decide to grow. Or, not.
Life can change in a blink. But often, it changes for the better, too. And for me, looking forward with an attitude of “let’s see what’s next” feels better. It calms my anxiety, takes my mind off the ducks running amok.
Finding the willingness to accept what is and look forward with an open heart at what can still be is an exercise for me. I have to remind myself to build that muscle. I still want certainty and feel anxious at its lack. At my core, I am a person who listens to her gut and also follows her heart – and these two things can be in conflict which can lead to a trip on the Crazy Train. All aboard!
But this is when I get to practice. Can I predict the outcome? No. Can I control the outcome? Not really (but watch me try…!) Will worrying change anything? So far, not. So how about instead, let’s see what happens. Trust is big here – trust yourself to know better when it’s time to observe and when it’s time to act. But do pay attention to that anxiety. More often than not, it’s your body knowing something before your brain does. Unfortunately, you often have to relax into that anxiety until the reason for it is revealed. Try to observe it without feeding it. Pay attention to what it’s trying to show you, but don’t let it consume you.
How? I know it’s easier said than done. This is why I say “practice”…
Here’s what I do. I acknowledge the anxiety and ask myself if I know why it’s there. If not, I thank it for keeping me aware, and then I make an agreement with it – I will not push it away (pushing it away only makes it get louder, anyway), but I ask for its patience. It might sound something like this: Yo, Anxiety! Please be patient while I observe and gather all the information I need to act. I promise not to ignore you, but I need some time because I don’t know enough yet. So, chill, baby.
It might sound a little nutty, but it works. However, a key part of this is trust.
I trust myself.
I trust myself not to ignore my gut. I trust myself to be fair to me and speak up about what I need. I trust myself to listen to my heart and I trust myself to know when it’s time to move on and let something go (oh, that again). I trust myself to be okay.
Because you know what? Looking back at all the wonderful things and people and experiences that have come into my life over the last twelve years since those ducks went flying tells me that so often, it is more good than bad. And the pain I experienced only makes me relish the joy so much more. And it makes me so grateful that I was willing to let it come to me.
I am willing to be. I am willing to be with. I am willing to be without. Letting what comes, come. Letting what goes, go. I am willing to be.
Artwork: Keeping Her Dreams Alive, Shawna Erback