Whether it came from my family of origin or was part of my soul’s original blueprint, I’ve spent most of my life grappling with being okay with not knowing. The fact that there is so much we don’t know, can’t possibly know, can’t plan or prepare for was just unacceptable to me for a long, long time. In my twenties, I really believed that I did, in fact, know. In my thirties, I found out that there was a whole lot missing from my field of view. By the time I got to my forties, I’d come to terms with the flow of life and her wise, yet unpredictable ways- or so I thought. As I lean toward fifty, I’m challenged with the truth that I really don’t know much of anything and am still struggling to muster up patience and faith for the slow unfolding of time. We really cannot push the river. Whatever is coming will arrive in its own sweet time. And I can tell you for sure that timeline does not belong to me.
As I’m working through the latest season of change— with not much of an idea about what I am becoming— I’ve had a little a-ha moment. I’m coming to see the rather obvious truth that transition and transformation are not actually seasons through which we pass or graduate or complete; rather, the course of life is an extended transformation in a long series of births, deaths and rebirths. One cycle must be completed before the next, each in turn. Doors can only be walked through once they appear, and even then, most often only once they have opened to us of their own accord. We cannot open doors that we cannot see. We cannot force a locked door open– at least not without unfortunate consequences. Am I the only one who didn’t read that particular memo long ago?
I cannot say that I am at a crossroad, exactly. It’s more that, in my cedar tree way, I thicken and grow more rings, and as new branches burgeon from that steady core, I can’t yet see to where they are reaching. I’ve had spells in life when I felt the confinement of a chrysalis. These were times of waiting, struggling, with no view or access to the outside world. This is a different sensation. I’m aware of the growth and can definitely feel the expansion in progress. It’s not small and restricted, it’s almost too big. I don’t yet see the final product— and I get it intellectually— there is no final product. Insert emoji of exasperation here. Even as I write, I’m dropping back into the same old loop. I’m still looking for the conclusion, the final product, the end zone. I want to know where all of this is going.
So what do I know when I get clear and put all of that aside? That we are actually all headed to a definite, finite and known destination, and that is death. All of the zigs, zags and spirals between now and then are simply new forms, progressions, excursions. The great work of my life and yours is the life itself, not some completed project we can place onto a podium for all to admire. This is unfortunate for my limited wanting-to-know mind, as then the task could be done and all would be well. The journey is the reward, the journey is the reward, the journey is the reward…
At the end of a meditation well over a year ago I was given the instruction to “do what is right in front of you.” And the truth is that this is all we can do. You might say it’s the goal of a rich and fulfilling life: to be in the middle of the mystery, to live the mystery. The greatness within us must evolve and express itself in due course. We need to move from the curse to the challenge to the gift of not knowing. For all of the detours, sadness, grief and trouble, the beauty and wonder of this life are far more than we could ever have known, planned or foreseen. Open to the unknown, to wonder, to mystery. This is the task at hand.