Not Knowing

The only thing I can ever know for certain is what I’m experiencing in this very moment. (Notice that I said “what I’m experiencing”, not “what’s happening”.) What I experienced in the previous moment is memory, and memory is faulty. What I’ll experience in the next moment hasn’t happened yet, so while I can predict – sometimes with accuracy – what will happen, I can’t really know for sure until the moment arrives. 

This awareness has some interesting implications. To really understand this truth, to get in our bones, can be terrifying. If we don’t know what’s going to happen next, and we can’t be sure we remember exactly what happened in the past, it can feel like we don’t have much to hold on to. It can bring us smack in the face with our fears and doubts and uncertainties.

But this awareness can also be liberating; it can free us of our need for things to be a certain way. Rather than resting our reassurance on predictions of the future or detailed analyses of our past, we can have faith in our ability to respond to whatever arises from moment to moment. We can allow ourselves to see more clearly the multiple possibilities available in each moment.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t plan or anticipate; this is in our nature and it’s useful to do so. Rather, it’s about holding these plans and anticipations lightly, reminding ourselves that we may make plans, but we really do not know what’s going to happen until it happens.

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