Not only are we uncertain about What’s Next, we’re in a weird stew of suspicion. I stood in the grocery two carts away from TB who chatted away through her mask. One of our CUB neighbors using the business internet to school her son was accused of being open, complete with a call from the police. When I saw EG2 at the recycling center, it felt like cheating—“Yay, friends! Can we talk? Will we get caught?” Um…by whom?
This is not how humans are meant to live.
I’m OK with uncertainty. In fact, it’s probably a good thing to hold. Uncertainty keeps me aware, present, appreciative…alive. It keeps me honest. If I don’t know exactly what will happen, I have to be my best self to catch and ride the moment. If I am certain, then I could get lazy, cocky, and unable to appreciate nuance and surprise.
I’ve told you how I usually don’t know what I’m doing, like winging it in classes and retreats. I’ve found that when I prepare and plan a lot, most of it gets thrown out while we work with whatever shows up in the moment. There’s still the toolkit, the years of wisdom preparation, the iceberg under the water. That I honor.
It’s the life on top of the water, the part we see and live, that’s continually shaped and changed by elements, events, currents. So uncertainty is normal and necessary. It’s supported by whatever foundations and resources we build: family, community, teachings, structures, routines, activities….
Uncertainty and suspicion are not the same. We must meet suspicion, question its presence, and rise above the occasion. Suspicion implies “you’re out to get me.” That going to the grocery, seeing a friend, or walking in the neighborhood could bring harm. Any of those could be true in any circumstance. We’ve heightened the experience with fear.
Here’s what I really want to say. See your fear and suspicion, and use whatever tools you’ve got to rise above them. Include and Transcend. We must move into accepting the uncertain and remaining curious about life WITH other humans, no matter what. We are meant to live together on this planet, working it out.
We are already doing this, also. The pandemic is teaching us the deep power of paradox. Because I could infect you without knowing it, I protect you by suspecting myself first. Here is my second point. The pandemic is also teaching us the ethic of Own Your Experience. If I’m suspicious, I start with me. This helps teach me to claim whatever I’m feeling. If I’m upset by something you’re doing, that upset is mine—I create that feeling. This is very hard to learn—the unconscious, immature human impulse is to blame others. Paradoxically, the pandemic is collectively taking us deeper into personal responsibility.
If we can all come together to agree on social distancing, support our medical structures, and pause hostilities, we can come together and create new social pacts. This might be extreme, and really smart people will be making proposals. We have to get ready.
In the meantime, I’ve dusted off my lawn chair. As soon as we get the word, I’m coming to your driveway. We can throw out a tape measure, raise our respective glasses, and claim all our uncertainty, fear, desire for connection, curiosity, and ideas about a better world. Then for heaven’s sake let’s talk about anything else. The world is too glorious not to share it with you.