By Deb Duer
The best way to get anywhere, at times, is to have no idea where you are going. We seem to have been conditioned to always know what we’re going to do next, and if we don’t, we run with our eyes shut and hearts closed to catch up to whatever we can grasp, which holds our truest desires at bay.
Life becomes a series of “doings” that keep our days full and productive, but emptier than we would like. There is almost no one I have talked with who doesn’t realize that there is much more to life, to spirit and soul than a perfectly productive yet numbing approach to living. There is emptiness hanging around in our jobs and relationships, our churches and communities, and it is the fear of emptiness that is the enemy of taking the time to fully know your own sacred purpose.
These are some lessons I have learned during my own five year process of not knowing. Not knowing can at first be immeasurably unsettling, but then a sort of relief takes over. When I accepted not knowing, I began to have fewer expectations of getting somewhere, and I was never late! The only goal for me during that period of time was meshing with the moment and looking for answers in places I had forgotten about. I started to learn that life wants me to look around, to be in nature, to look at a cloud or clump of Spanish moss and find the metaphors that explain what life’s purpose for me may look like. It set up a guarantee that I would not be settling for just anything in my life, or at least that I would turn toward a diversion which might make my life more full. If allowed, the unknown brings the unexpected which is often more true to ourselves than we can ever imagine. We have to cultivate the art of curiosity, of turning over stones to see just what is hidden underneath. We walk down roads that go to places we haven’t been or we take a turn because we saw an interesting view. There is no way to inhibit this process once we learn to engage and follow our curiosity; our thoughts and perspectives have little choice but to begin to change.
Not knowing has made me more comfortable with earning less money, needing fewer things and doing new things that will pay this week’s bills. It has changed my priorities, introduced me to new friends and given me more of a certainty that whatever I do for my own growth will be supported with the things I need and want, to have a fuller life. I am fortunate to have strong and willing people in my life whom have supported me lovingly as I have conducted my oddball and lengthy search for self. The wonderful people will show up just when you need them, to love and support you too. The risk you take on emptiness is far greater than the risk to become whole and joy filled by allowing a measure of not having to know everything all the time. We have so much control already of myriad things in life, but the emptiness still persists for many.
I invite you this week to take a step back, to breathe, observe and give something new a try. Step out for an afternoon to walk on the beach in bare feet, or at least, look up from your computer to hear what the sounds in the room are saying. Hold some room in your heart for the marvelous, the mysterious and the unexpected.
Deb Duer is a freelance writer whose work is inspired by the never-ending supply of surprises that life can deliver! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.