The only thing we have control over is our choice to either react mindlessly or respond mindfully to ‘what is’ in the current moment. To practice the Art of Uncertainty is to get comfortable being out of control.
~ Excerpt from, The Art of Uncertainty
It’s interesting to observe how fear can creep in and overwhelm the logical mind when threatening conditions seem beyond our control. Human beings disdain being out of control. When was the last time you felt stuck in a vortex of fear, being rendered powerless over your own destiny? For me (and millions of others), the answer could be September 28th, as hurricane Ian crawled northeast along the Gulf Coast, predicted to hit Florida with a category F4 – F5 impact.
The biggest challenge was because as articulate as the meteorologists were, they could offer only an educated guess when and where Ian would make landfall—and, to what degree it would affect us. They offered us a graphic rendering filled with speculation models called “spaghetti plots” that headed “willy-nilly” in many directions, creating what they know as “The Cone of Uncertainty.” The problem with that is, it’s, well, uncertain—which only spawns more angst, and fear in the minds and hearts of everyone in the “Cone.” Tragically, hurricane Ian did indeed make landfall about 80 miles south of where I live and wrought devastating loss, pain, and suffering to people living in the Fort Myers area. Ian triggered immense fear in millions of Floridians along the Gulf Coast who would never experience the direct wrath of this monster storm.
Often, fear originates in our mind because, try as we may, we have little control over the future, which is where we look for our peace and security, seeking the assurance that everything will be all right. The illusion is that we have control over many variables in our daily life. However, we have control over very little, other than our next breath and our next thought. Consider these questions: Can you control the driver in the next lane?Can you control the surges of the waves in the ocean? Can you control the earth when it quakes? Can you control the stock market and the direction interest rates go?
The obvious answer to these questions is the same, yet look at how much time and energy we spend worrying about it. We all experience our own personal Cone of Uncertainty at various times in our lives. Our uncertainty may not be at all storm-related. Perhaps it’s the “spaghetti plots” of uncertainty laid out by a doctor’s diagnosis that put us in the middle of a different type of storm. Maybe what is going on in the economy—or the increasing crime and violence that seeps into our minds while watching the six-o’clock news put us in the Cone of Uncertainty. The cause of our personal storms can be legion.
THE TAKE AWAY: A few of my friends say, “You should move out of Florida to escape the threat and uncertainty of hurricanes.” To that I reply, “I came from California where drought, fire, gridlock, and earthquakes manifest their own Cone of Uncertainty regularly. As the saying goes, you can run, but you can’t hide. There is nowhere we can run to—physically or emotionally—that doesn’t have its own version of the Cone of Uncertainty. Perhaps the resolution we must embrace is that uncertainty comes with the privilege of living in a human skin; it’s not a matter of avoiding our uncertainties—it’s more about how we interpret them. Whatever your personal Cone of Uncertainty may be today, allow it to be your teacher; live proactively with it, and don’t allow fear to have its way with you. Get comfortable in knowing what you have control over and what you don’t—and make peace with it. Perhaps foremost, always find solace in the great teacher’s admonition: “This too shall pass.” He was right on; good, bad, or indifferent, the storm always passes.
Peace, Dennis Merritt Jones