i feel that most people view uncertainty as a negative thing. something to be reduced, overcome, even eliminated. as honorable as that sounds, i’ve come to see uncertainty not as an antagonist, but a partner. there is uncertainty in everything. even in uncertainty itself.

i’ve always maintained there is no such thing as a truly random event; no coincidences. everything affects and is affected by everything else. it’s just to what degree. and that is where the uncertainty comes in.

uncertain: not able to be relied on; not known or definite; variable, erratic, unpredictable.

what if everything was predictable? and it wouldn’t even have to be to 100% accuracy. let’s say we could predict everything to 95%. there’d be no lottery winners because it’d now have no purpose. sport would be rendered meaningless. people wouldn’t take chances on love and relationships as there would be no chance involved. the very look of the human race would most likely homogenize because people wouldn’t have kids that didn’t look a certain way or have a particular intelligence. we’d have certainty free zones where the level of uncertainty is artificially induced and controlled so that people could experience adrenaline again. we could continue to list examples, but you can see where this going. we would all but eliminate failure. and in that we would lose all the flavor, nuance, and surprise that the universe and life has grown to deliver.

uncertainty is the thing that gives beauty and mystery to our lives. in uncertainty there is hope and faith. when something is certain all hope for anything different is lost. i do realize that sometimes uncertainty can feel forever confusing and that, too, can render hopelessness. but, there is grace and elegance in it, if it is respected for what it is in the moment; that each moment is different from the last in forever uncertain ways.

whether hiking or capturing photographs, i’ve learned to exert a level of influence over a few things and then let everything else happen. the pure random uncertainty of human and natural universal chaos in all its glory. sometimes terrifying. most times wonderful and wondrous.

what has happened to cause most people to associate uncertainty with bad things? the word risk. the two words have become synonymous. there is a lot of uncertainty that gets imparted to language when the very language we use to describe our world becomes uncertain. so, there are instances where uncertainty is necessarily not a beneficial thing, and is indeed detrimental. risk means the exposure to danger, loss, peril, and/or death. but as a synonym, uncertainty is listed. the amount of risk may be uncertain, but something being uncertain does not unavoidably mean it is risky.

i suppose we should all limit our exposure to risk or at least be aware of the possible risky outcomes of our decisions and actions. but, to associate all uncertainty with real risk is an easily avoidable mistake. and one that we should all strive for if nothing else than for our own emotional well being. i can’t count the number of discussions i’ve had about my adventurous decisions that are nothing but a series of “what if” questions. “what if this?” “what if that?” yes, what if? and also what if not?

the fact is life itself (either by design or by chance, who knows for certain) is extremely risky. we take a risk every single day we wake up. but, our conscious brain learned early on that it couldn’t worry about it or it would simply freeze. so, that task gets relegated to some dark corner of the mind that kicks in when it senses actual real risk and our conscious brain gets turned off so it doesn’t cause us to freeze when immediate action is required. but, life and our minds being what they are, sometimes even that is uncertain and we stand there frozen; a deer in the headlights.

intelligently embrace the uncertainty in your life. the real risk of not doing so is that you miss out on wonderful experiences that life and the world has to offer by taking small chances. in the end, we aren’t actually in control of anything. we have a modicum of influence and that’s all.

Published On: 2024 January 5

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