Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gift of Uncertainity

I would never characterize incertitude as a gift as I like to know the when, why, and how of everything. The past couple of years have felt as if I'm adrift on a sea of uncertainty and everything I've "known" and depended on to be true is in question. The handrails - tradition, custom, ways of behaving, religion - which have served to define who I am and which I've clung to my whole life are gone, leaving me nothing to base my decisions on, nothing to develop a course of action with and worst of all leaving me with no way to predict an outcome, in other words, completely disempowered...hardly what I would call a gift.

I feel like someone who has been let out of prison, squinting in the bright sunlight, after spending decades behind bars, overwhelmed at the challenges before me, to create a new life for myself, only given a lump of clay, without any tools to mold this blob.

Then it occurred to me, I'm free. Those handrails I clung too were nothing more than prison bars, preventing me from living life the way I was meant to live it, as myself.

Human beings are the only living organisms able to break free from instinct and chart their own course, yet most of us choose to be anchored in one spot, restrained from exploring life. It's safe, secure, dependable and most of all, it make us feel like we are in "control" when clearly we are not as it's impossible. Our surroundings can reign over us at anytime and show us who is really in charge in a split second. In fact, anchored in one place, clinging to a guardrail makes one ten times more vulnerable to the arbitrary forces of our environment; we've sacrificed our freedom to become a sitting duck, unable to move when the shit hits the fan.

America has become too complacent. We've lost the innovative, inventive, creative risk-taking spirit that defined this country at one time. Progress and creativity demand we take risks and confront uncertainty head on.

As scary as it is and it can be terrifying, uncertainty is a gift as it presents an opportunity to break free from our cultural straight jacket or "character armor" as Ernest Becker calls it whether it be as an individual or a nation.

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