Does your future seem uncertain? Are you in the midst of a lot of turmoil, wondering what's going to happen next? Do you feel like you're stuck in quicksand, having no idea what to do? Are you facing several doors and you don't know which one to open?
Perhaps you know some of what lies ahead. You expect your job will continue, or your marriage or relationship will carry on, but meanwhile, there are other Big Unanswered Questions hanging over you and not knowing the answers is doing your head in. You cling to the bits you know, any parts of your life that you expect to remain the same. Somehow, those "certainties" make those awful questions a little easier to bear whilst you're waiting for the answers to come.
You find yourself looking ahead, seeing loads of huge and unnerving question marks kind of blur together to become one really big fat overwhelming one. It can feel quite daunting but it helps if you choose to believe that there's a reason for all of it.
I remember one particular situation in which too many "unknowns" were becoming rather frightening until I realised something. Although we think we have some general idea of where our lives are going and what's going to happen next (at least to one degree or another), it's all an illusion. We do not ever really know what is waiting just around the corner; we only think we do.
We never know when something really awful and devastating - or something really magnificent and magical - will happen and completely disrupt and change our lives. The future we have planned, whether it be an hour ahead, a day, a year or decades, is all in our heads, an image, a wish, a plan, a hope. But there is never a guarantee about any of it.
The reality is that all of us are living with a big, fat question mark staring us in the face. We choose not to think about it, clinging, instead, to everything familiar and comforting, while we pray that nothing happens to blow our plans to smithereens.
The problem with this is that when it does all blow apart - as it sometimes does - we're completely knocked off balance. We don't know how to cope with the Big Unanswered Questions because we've become so used to "knowing" (or rather, thinking we know) what's familiar, what's happening, and what's coming. Remove the familiar or the expected, and we come apart at the seams.
I'm not suggesting we shouldn't have plans or dreams. Those are what keep us moving forward, giving us a reason to get up every day and do what we do. But we need some perspective about them. We must remember that plans and dreams are ideas. They can become reality, but they are not yet reality. They are not carved in stone. They are subject to change at the whim of the universe, of circumstance, or of many things that are beyond our control.
This is where we get into trouble - when something knocks us off course, sending us down a different path and blowing our plans all to hell.
If you're feeling like you've been cut adrift because now there is uncertainty in your life, think about this: There has always been uncertainty in your life. You may have thought you knew what was going to happen, but it was only a plan. The truth is that every moment beyond the one you're standing in right now is an illusion. Your plans can be a map and give you directions to your preferred destination, but sometimes the map gets picked up by a gust of wind and blown out the window.
If you can be prepared for the fact that this might happen, you won't be hit as hard as someone who lives by - and for - the map. Yes, your future is uncertain. It's always been uncertain; that's nothing new. You just didn't see it that way. Nothing's really any different today than it was when you were living in the illusion of your plans, when you thought your life was mapped out for you.
Make your plans but do not cling to them, for it is in that clinging and attachment that your pain is born when things go awry. Just focus on right here, right now. Forget the question marks. They'll always be there, and the answers are unfolding in every moment of your life.
Let go of the need to know what will happen. It is impossible. The future will take care of itself, one moment at a time.
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