Well, I asked for a dream and I got one. I was teaching a large group of children. I asked a girl to define the word “ascertain” (verb) and she answered but it was loud and chaotic and so no one heard. Then we were walking outside and I was still trying to go on with this lesson. Cars were going by and it was hard to hear. We got lined up at the corner and I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to cross the busy street but then another group of people started crossing and we saw the light was green and we could cross, too.
In my dream, I was wanting certainty. I was trying to control the situation and frustrated that things were not going as I wanted. I felt that I wasn’t being heard. I felt unsure of myself. I had to wait for the green light. This is all sounding very familiar!! Yes, the same themes keep coming up but that is how healing works. It’s like digging a giant circle in the earth, going around and around and each time getting a little deeper, a little closer to the core.
Uncertainty–it’s what we all have to deal with in this ever-changing world. I realized that I have been trying to figure things out. I want answers and I want them now! The thought in my head are going back and forth like a pendulum. It’s like I want to make some decisions so I can move forward but then feeling that I don’t really know what choice I want to make yet. Or maybe I’m just not ready yet. The real answer right now is “I don’t know.” It’s uncertain.
Of course, I can never be 100% certain of anything anyway. I can weigh the pros and cons, analyze and try to predict the consequences but thinking has never really helped me to decide. What I heard from a speaker Monday night was–If it comes from the heart, you can’t go wrong. Tied up in my fear of uncertainty is the fear of failure–What if I make the wrong choice? What if I make a mistake? What if I do something I end up regretting? In the end, I go with my heart, my intuition. I have always trusted this. It’s always right.
I watched a Tara Brach talk last night on fear. (I was actually afraid to watch the talk on fear!) She talked about how the Buddha had met his fear by saying, “I see you, Mara. Come. Let’s have tea.” I really got it. I really got how I had been caught up in fear disguised as my analyzing, judging and planning. And so, for a short time, I allowed it to be. I just sat with it. Some of the pain and tightness released and a space opened up. Next, I imagined myself being held and surrounded by loving presence and the fear melted even more.
What stuck with me was this–Fear is separation. Love is connection. When I get caught up in the fear of uncertainty, I enter a state of flight/fight/freeze. I get scared and I become a small and separate self. I sometimes feel a sense of urgency to create some kind of certainty. I think I need to fix things and figure out answers so I can go back to the feeling that life is more stable and secure, with nothing left up in the air; as if everything could be strapped down and secured so it wouldn’t shift or change.
As I look back over the last 5 years of my life, I realize how much of my false sense of certainty has been shaken up–quite literally by the earthquake I experienced in Japan in 2011. I thought solid ground under my feet and the sun above me were at least two things I could count on but even the ground I walk on can shift and move. That earthquake was a huge reminder of the uncertainty that is always lurking beneath me.
The second thing, was my health challenge. I didn’t know how my body would feel from one day to the next. This sent me desperately trying to reach for something stable, like a drowning swimmer grabbing onto a life ring. The third event was moving back to Canada–starting over again in a new country, trying to build a company all the while navigating my mid-life transformation and changing relationship dynamics. It is all pretty scary stuff!
The truth is that certainty is an illusion. There may be times in our lives when things seem certain and secure. Perhaps we have a stable job, daily routines, money in the bank, regular activities with friends and life seems pretty tied down, like a boat anchored to the ocean floor. We can kind of blanket ourselves in the illusion that things aren’t changing. But we still don’t truly know what is going to happen next. Attempting to manage and control only provides a veil from the discomfort. Burying ourselves in distractions only gives us temporary relief from the anxiety.
I can see that the cars in my dream represent the endless stream of thoughts in my head. How can I possibly hear myself above all the cars! I believe the dream is telling me to stop trying to control everything, to get quiet so I can receive guidance. And perhaps it is also telling me to be patient–to wait for the green light. The green light that tells me–Now is the time; it is safe to cross.
The fear will come up again and again but instead of covering it up with the analyzing, planning and judging, maybe I can surrender a little. Instead of pushing the fear away, maybe I can say, “Hello fear, I see you” and allow it to be for a bit. Perhaps I can even transform that fear into excitement!!
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”– Franklin Roosevelt.