Inviting along uncertainty

Who would take the following trip?

Departure: Could be today, tomorrow, next week or next year.

Destination: Not really sure.

Accommodations: There may be a nice hotel. There may not be shelter.

Duration: A few hours, up to a lifetime.

Maybe a few folks would sign up; but likely, most of us would not. Our brains crave certainty. When left alone with uncertainty, our minds develop creative stories to dispel discomfort. “Well, I better start packing immediately, and pack everything I own, since I don’t know where this trip is going. I should also pack bear spray in case of bears and a satellite phone in case of poor cell phone reception, 40 pairs of underwear . . .†and the mind goes on-and-on-and-on to “protect†us from uncertainty.

Wisdom from a Buddhist nun

I recently read Pema Chodron’s book, Comfortable with Uncertainty in hopes it would make me feel better when uncertainty arises. (Notice my mind moving me away from the pain of uncertainty?) Spoiler alert. She spends much of the book highlighting that uncertainty IS uncomfortable AND we suffer less when we invite it along. Her teachings encouraged me to take the “invite Jake†approach to uncertainty.

Inviting Jake

My childhood best friend, Kate, had a little brother, Jake. He made it his mission to little brother his way into our best laid plans. We loved biking to Wonderland Park and playing putt-putt golf. However, we could only go if we took Jake. Ugh! We never knew if we would finish a game with him around. Jake would hit the golf balls too hard. He embarrassed us. He cried when he lost (which was often considering he treated the putter like a driver). We considered saying goodbye to Wonderland Park in order to avoid the discomfort of Jake. After a week of not going, we missed Wonderland Park terribly. Yes, Jake was a pain, but we still had a lot of fun. The next week, we played putt-putt with Jake in tow.

Our minds yearn for a tidy and orderly life.

Everyone in the express lane should have 10 items or less. The light should come on when we flip the switch. Peanut butter goes with jelly. Yes, certainty feels good. However, I invite you to keep moving towards what you value even with uncertainty in tow. The discomfort could be worth the gains.