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Trapped in the Clutches of Ambiguity

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: xploitme
Can you see your 2011 from here?

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And he replied: Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.

— Minnie L. Haskins

In my last post I put a stake in the ground with what may have seemed an ambiguous New Year’s resolution… (Look again, I didn’t say “ambitious”, I said “ambiguous”. Funny how the mind’s eye can fool.)  OK, cancel the “may have” – I’m sure it not only looks ambiguous, it is ambiguous!  You see, I resolved to: Ask, look, and learn something about “room to grow” for me and those whom I touch or who touch me…

And yes, I know that’s not what a resolution is supposed to look like.  According to tradition, I should be resolving to lose weight, get fit, be kind, patch up sundered relationships, be organized, eliminate clutter, make lots of money, yada, yada, yada…  And, by the way, “good goals”, we’ve been taught, should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed.  My 2011 resolution is none of the above.  Sorry about that.

A Pattern Emerges

Looking back over my last six months of posts, I see a pattern – on three different occasions I worried over “not knowing”:

In Start Somewhere I committed to clarifying my intent with visioning exercises but my destination continued to elude.

In Where Do You Want to Go?  Wait For It… I “juiced-up” the vision but my destination remained obscure.

In How to Get Out the Door without Getting Tangled in Your Laces I likened myself to cartoon character Rose Gumbo’s biker-babe alter ego and decided to VRROOM my warrior spirit into the future and let meaning and purpose find me.

My 2011 resolution shines only a tiny flashlight beam into the blur. I’m OK with that; I’ve been vrrooming into the fog for some time now.  Even so, my left brain critic bombards my right brain bias (to which I attribute my creativity and tolerance for the unknown) with a noisy clamoring for ANSWERS!  Let me give you an example of the internal dialogue I often have to tolerate:

Scene: When I visited the Cajun-French city of Baton Rouge, LA – a town known not for its grid-like street plan but rather, for a charmingly haphazard maze – I decided to explore without map or directions and without consciously noting landmarks.  My plan was simple: to drive about and see the scenery, turning whenever and wherever whim might prompt me.

Dialogue: Throughout this driving adventure my brain was swamped with a harangue that went like this:

  • LeftBrain (LB) – Wait! What street was that?  We don’t know where we’re going!
  • RightBrain (RB) – Chill, we’ll be fine.  I know what I’m doing.
  • LB – Where are we? We are so lost! How will we get back?
  • RB – Not to worry, I’ve got it covered, really, I DO.
  • LB – Turn back now. We’re lost and getting lost-er!
  • RB – Shush, I’ve got it… I KNOW how to get back and I know where to turn – what I don’t know is how to explain it.  So, if you’ll just be quiet we’ll get there and we could even have some fun doing so!!!

Sure enough, my return trip (once my right brain decided we were “done”) replicated the outward bound trip all the way back to my hotel.  No problem.  Except that is, for the left brain’s fearful tirade.

I’m guessing that’s what this post is all about – it’s an attempt to soothe the diatribe assailing my consciousness.

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.

— G.K. Chesterton

As I began writing this post in defense of ambiguity, two life-commentators popped up on my radar screen… Sarah Cooper and Brother David both had previously, via a blog and a YouTube video, offered insights which I’d saved in what I call my “blog fodder folder”, which holds insights that have impressed me as profound and which I hope “someday” to expand upon.  And although their commentaries weren’t a conscious part of my resolution making process, obviously their advice and prose impressed on my consciousness and influenced me.

The Soul Unfolds Itself

Back in July, career coach and internet friend, Sarah Cooper of offered some insightful advice that spoke to my left brain fears.  She recommended two strategies for proceeding in the midst of uncertainty:

  1. Don’t spend too long on the theory: There’s no substitute for actually trying stuff out to know if it’s for you or not.
  2. Get comfortable with a degree of not knowing: Viewing our winding path through life as a journey, rather than a series of goals we must execute with unfailing precision, does seem to me to be the wiser and happier perspective.

And then she quoted a passage that still resonates with me – I hope you’ll say the same after reading it:

Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.  But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.  You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.  You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

…For self is a sea boundless and measureless. Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’  Say not, ‘I have found the path of the soul.’ Say rather, ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path.’

For the soul walks upon all paths.  The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.  The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

— Khalil Gibran

Let This Day’s Gift Flow Through You

And then there’s Brother David’s YouTube video which was recommended by Terry Hershey.  In the video (which I hope you’ll make time to watch) Brother David, a Benedictine monk makes a beautiful argument for treating each day as a gift – I’m paraphrasing, but it goes something like this:

…if you do nothing else but cultivate that response to this unique day – respond as if it is the first and last day of your life – then you will have spent this day very well.

…open your heart and drink the life giving gift of today… open your heart to all these blessings and let it flow through you… hope that everyone you meet will be blessed by you… gratefulness overflows into blessings all round you.

Ambiguity is NOT a Trap, It’s Life

Today, I have a choice: to live unsatisfied and distracted by a life-yet-to-be or to live now—to enter into, to be present in, to savor THIS life.

— Terry Hershey

Despite the ambiguity and uncertainty of my resolution, I’m feeling good about it anyway.  (RB says: So there!)

This year of 2011 I will: ask, look, and learn something about “room to grow” for me and those whom I touch or who touch me… and as I begin to “know”, I’m confident that I will find myself “doing” whatever it is I’m meant to be.

What about you – how will you shine a light on your 2011 goals and accomplishments?

added 01/18/2011 – And the beat goes on… Ellie’s still perfecting her New Year’s resolutions with an imaginary virtual tour into the future — see her post Beam Me Up.

3 comments to Trapped in the Clutches of Ambiguity

  • xelliott123

    Thank you for the insight of Brother David. What a visionary! His website is a keeper … his E-cards divine… 😉

  • Ellie

    and I thought you told me about Brother David! Whatta ya know!

  • xelliott123

    It may be that I shared Brother David with you.. However, I am “comfortable to a degree of not knowing.. ” LOL … “The soul unfolds itself..” beautiful imagery
    Here’s another one along that line of thinking…

    “The windows of my soul
    I throw wide open to the sun.” ~John Greenleaf Whittier, My Psalm

    Have a wonderfully, bright sun shiny day!