“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Marie Rilke
This quote is the first thing that comes to mind these days. Living inside a question takes practice and vigilance. Dancing between the edges of the unknown and yet having the courage to take steps forward takes a lot of balance and still it is easy to feel clumsy. Yet, pushing towards some secure outcropping is usually that, pushing. You land there, try to stake a claim but it isn’t the real answer and the only way to get to it is to let go and float in the stream of uncertainty. Some days everything feels uncertain. I glance through the news and the weight of the vast changes in climate, how the governing bodies remain stuck, the persistence of the sorrow and violence surrounding us. To what do we cling? Each other of course, but even that is compromised in a culture that has confused friendship with digital connecting and intimacy with hookups.
Not knowing what to do or how to act or react to the world at large is a common problem and not limited to this cycle in history. Yet, I know that the more meaningful navigating happens internally- this is where the answers arise. It has taken me decades to realize that I cannot solve any real problems out there in the world. Instead, when I pull my attention inwards, and have the courage to really feel my anxiety and fears, there is always something behind them that evaporates or at least lightens just by paying attention to it.
It is really easy, especially when we are young, to take this space of doubt and questioning so seriously that not knowing becomes a form of suffering. Losing our ability to live through the questions because we stop eating or sleeping or being able to laugh at ourselves only adds layers to the unknown that makes it seem all the more foreboding. The truth is that “what if” is a very useful question. I have been using it a lot lately and finishing it with things like …I am not afraid, I trusted this moment just as it is, I loved myself in spite of my flaws.
Turning the questions around to something positive is how to allow grace in to your uncertainty. Instead of imagining the worst, which is usually what our negative bias invokes in uncertain times, have compassion for yourself and imagine, what if everything was working our just as it needs to. Allow yourself to feel for brief moments the solid place of love that is always there inside of you.