There’s something about uncertainty that throws us off. People generally like to know what they’re to do, where they’re going and how things are going to be like for a certain amount of time. Being uncertain brings with it fear of the unknown and I’d like to think that it’s this very fear that makes us edgy and causes our hearts to sink to the bottom of our stomachs as we think about things that are to come (or not, them being as uncertain as they are!).
Some writers have linked early man’s dabbling with primitive forms of religion as means of dealing with fear and uncertainty – we can’t really understand the unknown so we cook up supernatural means to explain those things away. While I could agree with this for a start, I’m aware that taking this to its logical conclusion would make some atheists very happy and many other people I know quite uncomfortable. But I digress…
While dealing with uncertain situations, we sometimes seek crutches to lean on and means of explaining why we’re in the state that we’re in. We sometimes forget that uncertainty is one of those annoying constants in our lives and how we deal with them determines how well we adjust to changes in life. I realised today after listening to a homily that we often hold ourselves back because of the fear that stems from uncertainty and lapse into the comfort of what we’re familiar with.
Standing on the precipice of significant change (and uncertainty), I too felt the fear that could be associated with things unknown but have grown to embrace it with a certain amount of trust, in myself and in the entire process that I will embark on. The more one fears, the more one will retreat into the comfort of what’s known and will never venture out. Shackleton famously set out from his icebound ship into the white unknown of the Antarctic – he conquered with endurance but had to face the spectre of failure and possible death in the inhospitable wilderness. But he did it anyway, stared fear in its ugly face and now sits in the history books as a man who led and explored without fear.
Franklin Roosevelt famously reminded us that ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’ and that rings true for all of us. We should stop ourselves from fearing and start living. So we shall. Shouldn’t we?