Marianne Williamson wrote once: “Your only real problem is that you’ve forgotten who you are.”
And the teacher Abraham wrote: “You are joy, looking for a way to express.”
I think about both of these statements on the days when my sense of purpose feels wobbly, like the windows in the house I grew up in. They would rattle and bang gently in their frames on the really stormy days, like animals who wanted out of their cages.
The windows of my childhood bedroom are always what I see in my mind when I feel uncertain.
A whole neighborhood of new houses was constructed in the woods behind my house in the early 80’s. Their windows were the certain, air tight kind that glided up or down and locked easily, without a fuss. Their lawns were green and flat with no dandelion roots or divots. Their gutters worked. Their garages were attached.
One of the girls from the new neighborhood invited me to her 10th birthday party. I have vague memories of drinking soda from cans and rollerskating in her basement to the songs: Gloria and Thriller. She had recessed lights in her bedroom and a canopy bed. It was the fanciest place I had ever hung out in.
But here's the thing about uncertainty: it contains a kind of aliveness that established stuff is missing. Uncertainty always longs for certainty. It searches and nudges us in that direction, like water seeking its level. And the journey from uncertain to more certain is a beautiful one. It asks us to investigate. It asks us what’s true.
The rattling window is working something out. It’s moved by the wind. It’s restless and unsettled.
The air tight kind are different. They’re locked in place, the way we feel when we’ve assumed a position in an argument and the Ego has taken up center stage. We “know” already. Whatever the other person has to say, what’s the point in listening? We’re right and that’s that.
No reckoning. No wind leaking in.
In Buddhism the opposite of faith is not doubt. It’s despair. Buddhism encourages doubt. One of the very first teachings of the Buddha was, essentially: these ideas worked for me. Try them on. If they’re beneficial to you too, great! If not, cast them aside. Take only what is useful on your journey.
But to live without curiosity or the impetus to investigate something more deeply, to know if it feels worthwhile or worth keeping - that kind of loss equals despair.
There’s a kind of uncertainty that feels anxious and unbearable. Like the bitter cold days when living in an old house that’s full of drafts and a wet basement just plain sucks.
But there are other shades of uncertainty that are beautiful. I’m grateful for those. I’m grateful for the discomfort they bring because it’s what keeps me seeking and wanting to know: “Is this true? Does it serve my Soul’s purpose? Will it lead me into deeper alignment? Or is it dragging me off course?"
Asking is the first step in knowing.
Wishing you a curious, wondrous week!