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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Trusting uncertainty

It is Thursday evening. The last light of the day is filtering in my bedroom window as I write. It was a beautiful clear blue sky and sunshine day despite the cold wind that blew and blew. It is Springtime on Prince Edward island, and Spring here comes real slow, with a couple of warmer days to tease us out of our winter wardrobes before more rain, frozen rain and snow move in to remind us where we are.

This morning I walked downtown to walk a dog that I care for, taking in the details around me: birds singing on electricity wires; piles of old furniture stacked out front from a Spring clean; the green grass pressing up around the leaning, eroded gravestones in the old cemetery I walk past every day; the tiniest of flowers testing the waters before they unfurl fully into daylight; the guy dressed from head to toe in a bright red maple leaf outfit standing outside the income tax services business waving at cars as they drive by and making us all feel deeply grateful for our jobs and professions -- whatever they may be.

This past week the reality of my choices over the last few weeks have been slowly sinking in. I often lie in bed at night listening to the wind or just looking around me at the empty room that I currently inhabit and feeling an odd mixture of certainty and relief and joy and fear. It is hard to feel certainty when so much is still uncertain. Certainty that I am in the right place when I will not know for at least three more weeks whether immigration will approve my papers and give me a work visa. How do you feel certain about something when you are completely at the mercy of powers that you have no control over whatsoever? I don't have an answer to that. My only certainty is that I am happy. Fear also rises up on and off -- fear that if my papers are approved I am out in the vast world again with no security net beneath my feet. That I have to somehow manage to find a new apartment and move my life yet again in the next couple of months. That while it feels good to be out on my own again, my parents are now thousands of miles away, and that if I remain here I will not be seeing them very often, which is harder as they get older. And that if things, for whatever reason, do not work out, I have no plan B. My fears makes me realize that maybe security is another of life's illusions.  

This evening after walking Chloe for the second time today I stopped by the home of some friends who live downtown. They recently moved into a new home, started new jobs, and are experiencing a lot of the same questions and uncertainties that I am, despite being Canadian. We sat and had tea together and got caught up on how everyone was surviving, and it made me realize that uncertainty runs through everyone's life -- single or married, Canadian or American or Asian or African, employed or not.....

My flatmate is snoring, as she does most nights. It is something that ordinarily would drive me crazy, but over the past few weeks has become reassuring -- a reminder that there is someone else right on the the other side of the wall who is just as human and living with just as many questions and just as much uncertainty as I am, in her own way. I don't know why that is reassuring right now, but it is.

I feel as though I am standing on the edge of another rather steep cliff, thinking I am ready to fly, but not sure if God agrees. There is some guidance, given by Shoghi Effendi to someone trying to make a difficult decision. One of the steps that he recommends is that the person trying to make the decision act as if it (whatever it is that the person wanted or was aiming for) has already been accomplished. I remind myself of this quote often these days as I transfer my Baha'i membership back to Canada and consider having my belongings shipped over to Canada so I have more than the contents of the one suitcase that I brought with me when I came in December, thinking I would only be staying two weeks, and that I am still living out of today. It takes courage to make plans and decisions knowing very well that the rug could be pulled out from under me any day, but standing still seems fruitless, so I continue to walk forward, trying to have faith in the process.

This evening I was thinking about what will happen if my paperwork is not approved. Having this thought, which I have repeatedly throughout the day every day, made me realize that while it seems like the end of the world, whatever happens is what God intends to happen, and that if I can learn to truly believe this, all the anxiety that I am experiencing would be gone. Another opportunity to practice faith and trust in God.

It is dark now. Time for a my novel, some quiet time, and a night full of dreams. And you, friends? How do you practice trust in God when life is full and overflowing with uncertainties? 


  1. I loved this question: "How do you practice trust in God when life is full and overflowing with uncertainties?" My answer came suddenly: I never dwell on the uncertainties. I spend much more time being in action in my life, taking the step that follows the step. I can't trust in God and dwell on trusting in God at the same time. I just do what I need to do to be proud of myself and then let go. And I don't mean "let go" in a poetic sense. Letting go isn't hard when you've already moved on to the next task. I'll go to my grave believing that God is in the action. :)

  2. I remember what is most important to me. If things don't work out as I expect, or would like, I dwell on those things that I love and cherish: dear friends, my family's voices on the phone, my lover in bed or the route of my breath through my body. I focus on gratitude for what is certain: this moment, feeling my legs against the floor, my hands on the keyboard or my heart beating warmth in my chest. I remember that this inherent gift of life is of value to me, beyond what I want, need, hope, feel, this gift of trees and earth and sky and flowers and many many other beings. And I sing these lines of a chant from the Buddha: All things are impermanent, they arise and they pass away. To be in harmony with this truth, brings great happiness.