I grew up in the upper Midwest surrounded by fellow descendants of Scandinavian, German, and Irish immigrants who traveled across the sea and halfway across the country subscribing to the American Dream, believing that if you work hard enough you’ll make your dreams come true.Perhaps it is due in part to this cultural heritage that I struggle with leaving things up to chance.I have a hard time following that old idiom “What is meant to be will be.”Isn’t there something else I could do, or say? I always feel like I need to do something immediately to determine the outcome. Yet as I have learned (or tried to learn) sometimes the best thing I can do for a situation is nothing at all.I wouldn’t say I am comfortable with uncertainty (not by a long shot) but I have been trying to recognize that uncertainty is unavoidable in life.
It is no wonder then that I am drawn to Pema Chödrön’s book Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion. Pema, who always writes simply and beautifully, reminds me that, “this not-knowing is part of the adventure.” It is clearly essential to do things the best we can, to live with kindness and joy, and to do good work but it is also important to have the faith to and the wisdom to let things be. May we all learn to live gracefully and lovingly with uncertainty this summer.
Photo from Abby Powell-Thompson.
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