I ambled out of my house last week, barefoot, with a phone in one hand and a tea in the other. I’ve been going on nightly walks, always leaving around twilight and spinning aimlessly around the streets for hours.
As I walk, I think. I’ve been reflecting on my experience with the pandemic lately, thinking of all the ways I once longed for the simple pleasures of a hug, a patio beer, a camp out. All these ordinary experiences I once took for granted, then longed after, are slowly becoming commonplace once again. And as life begins to resume a sense of normalcy, I’ve been trying to hold on to my gratitude for what I once went without.
Above all, I’ve been ruminating on the idea of uncertainty. As expectations and plans were ripped out from under us all, it was that sense of not knowing that shot me the deepest, that kept my trust in life curled up and weary. And now, perhaps in an effort to prevent reliving my fears, I catch myself chewing through a lingering dread for the unknown.
“In these times of uncertainty.”
I’ve read that phrase in emails, seen it in captions, and heard it on the news. But as the pandemic continues to shake the structures I’ve clung onto for so long, I question the validity of that statement. Are these times particularly uncertain, or have they always been?
Uncertainty, I believe, is unavoidable. Though at times it’s cloaked in plans and schedules and expectations, the more I consider it, the more I realize that nothing has ever been guaranteed. No experience, no feeling, and no tomorrow.
Though I’ve spent so much energy fearing unpredictability, trying to unbox the future and accept my fate, I now realize that the true beauty of life lies in the unexpected. That thrill is interwoven with precarity, and growth with instability. And perhaps the only way to ever feel truly at peace is not to be safe, but rather to sink into the realization that safety, in the sense of meeting expectation, is a lie. That nothing is certain, yet that itself makes everything possible.
Though lifting myself off a false cushion of stability daunts me, I know that brazen freedom comes with surrendering to the unknown.
So I continue to walk, barefoot and blind, into an unknown future, reminding myself that not only does uncertainty lie at the root of existence, but that it’s integral to the exploration of life itself.