When it comes to the everyday task of living in a world of stress and worry, if you can embrace uncertainty – allowing yourself not to know what’s going to happen to humanity and the world – you not only free yourself of anxiety, but also open yourself to the possibility of the inspiration and enthusiasm which would be denied to you if you had created ‘closure’ in your mind by believing in a certain outcome. The emotional equivalent of embracing uncertainty, surrendering to it, is the movement from fear to trust.
The bottom line is that we cannot be certain about what is going to happen, and trying to guess or predict this may be intellectually interesting, but at a practical level can lead to the problem of provisional living and a ‘confusion of levels’ whereby you pin your hopes on securing a material future, rather than on obtaining the really valuable things in life: happiness, clarity, wisdom and love.
I’ll never forget a story told to me years ago by a friend who knew someone who spent his entire working life dreaming of his retirement. With great effort he saved enough money to buy a villa in Spain. On the day he retired he flew out there to fulfil his dreams. He got drunk with friends in celebration, and for a moment he forgot that the swimming pool had not yet been filled with water. He dived in and was killed instantly.
There is a danger in the current situation that we obsess about the future and seek out certainty in people or ideologies that profess to know what will happen. The way to enhance a personal relationship is simply to be fully present to it, and not to be concerned about the ‘future of the relationship’. Perhaps this applies to our relationship with the world too.