Expecting Uncertainty

One of the themes I notice coming to fore in this pandemic crisis is that of uncertainty. The fact that things are changing so fast… One day there are a certain number of cases and the next there are so many more. One day the restaurants are open and the next day they are shut down. One day the stock market is up, the next it is down. Gathering in groups of ten is OK, until it becomes two, until it becomes mandatory to stay at home.

We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know what “over” will really look like. Will our favorite restaurant be able to re-open? Will the kids be able to go back to school? Can we reschedule that trip we were planning to take? All unknowns.

Living with such unpredictability is difficult, for sure. But, I would argue that we live with such uncertainty every moment of every normal day and always have. We don’t know for sure if the plans we’ve made for tomorrow will come to pass or fall through. We don’t know if that restaurant we ate at today will go out of business tomorrow. We don’t know, for certain, that we will be alive in the next moment. Yet, we are able to replace such uncertainties with plans, hopes, dreams, desires. We replace uncertainty with these things. Believing that the plan we made will come to pass. Desiring that delicious meal we ate yesterday and being pretty certain we can have the same thing for lunch tomorrow. We hope we wake up tomorrow, after all, we are healthy and…

But, in truth, all of these are uncertain. The only difference is our expectations.

Before, we believed we knew what to expect. We could weigh those expectations against past occurrences and plan accordingly… I woke up today, why not tomorrow? I just ate there yesterday, it’ll be there today?

Now, we have no idea. Now, we don’t know what to expect, what to believe in, or how to plan for what comes next. We know that any of these things will be built on what has all to quickly become our new normal — plans, hopes, dreams, expectations are likely to be dashed against an ever changing reality.This leads to anxiety and worry.

The only comfort I believe one can take in times like these is the solace and the comfort in knowing and seeing the truth of our existence — that there is and only ever has been the right-here and the right-now. That uncertainly is an ever present part of our existence. That, in many ways, the only certainty is uncertainty. The only way to truly get comfortable with that is to sit with it, to accept it, and adjust our expectations accordingly.