Uncertainty sucks. Except when it doesn’t.  Uncertainty is exhilarating and motivating. Except when it isn’t. Uncertainty has been my most complicated relationship – she’s been both my best friend and my most annoying foe, persistently knocking at the door, where behind it I often just want to keep sleeping until the uncertainty is resolved and organized into a tidy certainty.

She never stops knocking though, dear uncertainty, standing there with my running shoes when I finally give up and answer the door – with a big smile on her face, saying the same old phrase she always says as I exasperatedly tie my shoes… “come on, I want to show you something….”

There are other versions of this phrase, as well. “Come on, I want to teach you something….” or “Come on, I want you to meet someone…..” or “Come on, you need to hear this…or taste this….or experience this….” or my favorite….. “Come on, today’s the day I’m going to show you what you are capable of….”

Sometimes I stay in my room for days before the persistent knocking drives me crazy enough that I finally answer the door, often I have words I want to scream back at her, and I have. But she remains, steadfast, holding my shoes with that smile on her face. So, every once in a while, I’m waiting for her to arrive, with my shoes already on… but that’s not very often.

I hope I can get to a place where I greet her with a smile instead of an annoyed or resentful huff or sigh. If there is one certain thing, I know she’s always going to show up, like the sun, every morning.

If you’re in a time of life where you’re on a road with enough wild curves that you could never know where it leads, this is for you. If you’re on a road that is long and straight, with an emphasis on looooooong, this is for you.

There  is something about uncertainty that makes your blood move faster through your veins. We are often on high alert when we don’t know what’s going to happen next. As we humans know, when your blood is rushing through your veins faster than normal, it means you’ve either been doing something physical that requires a rush delivery of blood to your heart and everywhere else in your body or you’ve been THINKING something that MAKES your body think it is required.

Uncertainty, for me,  falls into the category of THINKING things that make my heart beat faster.

This morning I got up and put my sneakers on before dawn. I met uncertainty down the trail, I showed up before she did. I had to, it was like the sun was calling to me from behind the mountains, telling me to come have a morning chat. The sun, in all of its certainty, wanted to assure me that there are quite a few SURE things to cling to , like handrails. But also that YES, there is all sorts of uncertainty that looms and I can use the adrenaline that comes from it as fuel or as poison.

The thing is, the holiness that comes with uncertainty has been found as I’ve dropped the ILLUSION of certainty. Because that illusion that if I do all of the right things, I can be certain of the outcome, has distracted me from so many things. Because for MOST things in life, certainty is indeed an illusion. That’s why the sun coming up in the morning and going down at night are like two steadfast and loving grandparents. One helps you get the day started with all sorts of wisdom and light and a love so big that it lights up the sky, one puts you nicely to bed….with the same love and wisdom that lights up the sky….just in a different way.

I walked with uncertainty this morning in a friendly way that changed the long season of resentment I’ve felt for how relentlessly she’s bugged me. She kept smiling while I cried this year, rubbing her hands together in excitement while my body heaved in sobs. She did this for months and months and months, always standing there, holding my shoes….saying “you can walk as slow or as fast as you want, but come on…..let’s go….”

I said all sorts of things to her this year. Mostly in the form of “GO AWAY!” Sometimes I’d call her names, she kept smiling like I was a toddler throwing a fit because I wanted ice cream for breakfast. She stood there, smiling, holding my shoes.

Today when she met me on the trail, the morning sun shining on both of us, we laughed. She showed me AWE again, as the sun shined through the wispy parts of the weeds on the trail. She showed me the way the thistle flowers light up with so much magic in the morning sun that it will put sparks of light in my heart that will last me all day.   

She mostly let me figure it out on my own as we walked this morning….but one thing she did say clearly today was….”Hey, you’re going to be okay, there are so many good days ahead, maybe even the best days of your life…”

Today I love you, uncertainty. Tomorrow I might mumble swear words under my breath as I’m tying my shoes, but I know you’ll be there, and I will do my best to show up again as the sun rises.

What I can be certain about is that you will show up, again, in all of your messy holiness…and I can pretend that you are something other than you are – I can even pretend that if I ignore you long enough, you will maybe turn to certainty….. and yet you will still remain, smiling big and ready for the walk – my constant companion whether I’m grouchy or calm, silly or brilliant. You’re ready to show me something that leaves me in awe. You’re ready to lead me to a place where I can help someone. You’re ready to help me experience something new, taste something new, hear something new, see something new. You’re here to take me to places I didn’t even know existed and places I never would have signed up to go. You’re here to show me who I am and what I am capable of. You’re here to rub your hands together with excitement when I am terrified to open the door that’s calling to me.

Who can resist a friend like that? Not me, not for long anyway.


melody ross