Learning to Live in the Unknown
We don’t know for sure. Know what, you ask? Anything really. At some point, that can actually become more of a relief than a problem. When I get real with myself I realize that I don’t really know what’s going on. I don’t really know what it’s all about. I don’t know why things happen as they do or what’s going to happen.
There’s a bend around which I can’t see. That’s actually some kind of blessing.
If you had told me four years ago that I would get Lyme disease and that I’d be as sick as I’ve been for the last four years (and counting) I don’t think I would’ve wanted to live. The anticipation of that kind of suffering would have been unbearable. In much the same way as if you had told me when I was in my early twenties that I’d leave my first love and grieve our relationship long and hard, I would’ve wanted to pass. If you had told me that halfway through my Masters degree that I’d have to take a leave of absence, I probably wouldn’t have attempted it in the first place.
Perhaps the mystery is kind—if we knew what was around the bend we’d be too paralyzed sometimes to keep putting one foot in front of the other. There have also been times when the unknown has tormented me. Will I stay sick forever? Am I healing or just getting worse? Are things going to work out for me?
There is a grace in not knowing. In the ‘anything-can-happen’ lies pure possibility.
We are obsessed in our culture with knowing and with figuring out what we don’t know. Science is based on this—examining molecules, studying phenomenon, extrapolating patterns, and ‘figuring out’ how things work. Truth is, regardless of how much we think we know we don’t really know a whole lot…about anything.
Astrophysicist Arthur Eddington said about the Universe: "Something unknown is doing we don't know what.” This pretty well sums it up. There are no set answers to the biggest questions. Things are just not what they appear to be and they’re certainly not what we assume they are.
We’ve been entrained and conditioned from a young age to perceive reality a certain way. We learn the alphabet, we’re taught how to label things and file them into categories. We, slowly-but-surely, become confident that the world is what we’ve been taught that it is. We think that we are who we’ve been told that we are.
When we first arrive we are plump and juicy expressions of the divine mystery, still perceiving things that adults would tell us are ‘not there’, still in tune to the pulse of life—we are it. Methodically, we are indoctrinated to living in a certain ‘bandwidth’ called ‘reality’. We’ve labeled so many diagrams by the time we get out of school that we forget that ‘not knowing’ is valuable too.
In actuality, leaving a little room for the mystery lets grace rush in.
There’s a story bigger than our human selves can actually comprehend. There’s an infinity that the human mind is just not made to fully grasp. We are not in charge here. Thank God for that. In the unknowable unfolding of life we are pleasantly surprised and humbled over and over again. Maybe you’ve lived into your neatly preconceived plan for your life, but for others and myself, what transpires is not what we had in mind at all. What goes down is, in fact, unfathomable.
It’s natural for the mind to ‘fill in the blanks’. It’s easy to read into other people’s actions, to assume their intentions, or to think we know why their story is going the way that it is. Truth is…things are not what they appear—nearly always.
People come in with ancient threads of history and unresolved strands of soul story. They come in with life contracts unimaginable to fulfill. Certain experiences have been agreed upon. Generous souls have agreed to live in horrible soups of experience to further the evolution of consciousness, to develop brave hearts, and steady minds. We mustn’t assume that our methods would work for someone else or that our path is theirs. We mustn’t think that we know the way that their story is meant to go.
We must learn to live in the unknown, never truly knowing what awaits us around the bend. Life shows us eventually that things often don’t make sense and that she can be the wildest of wild cards. The mind makes sensible plans in an attempt to outmaneuver the sometimes-savage unknown of life. I believe that it’s grace that gets us out of bed in the morning. Grace heals us, whether it’s from yesterday’s paper cut or the primal wound that, like a deep pothole, we keep stumbling into.
Our own knowing and doing only take us so far. Grace has the final say.
Copyright © 2015 Marie-Ève Bonneau