Uncertainty

I have been thinking about, and feeling my way through, this topic for a couple weeks with each day revealing a different aspect of it, or presenting me with a new challenge to consider. As I type, I am aware I may not be able to complete a full post. Not because I don’t know what I want to say, but because one of the constraints on my daily life (intermittent severe pain to my dominant shoulder, arm and wrist) may stop me from typing.

Covid, post-Covid uptick in flu and RSV, unpredictable weather, unstable economic conditions, and a general increase in threats of all sorts (Will Russia deploy a nuke in Ukraine? Who will next host mongers of hate and violence here at home?) all contribute to an overriding atmosphere of uncertainty. For most of us, uncertainty brings with it an uptick in fear, as we fight against loss of control and try to find ways to ward off the worst potential consequences of that loss.

I have been reading essays and opinion pieces about some of these social aspects of living with uncertainty, and have responded in letters to the writers, or to the editor, at the several news organizations that publish the journalists I choose to follow. None of them have taken on the sources of uncertainty that are the main concerns for me these days. The closest any have come is to mention the aging of our population and the lack of adequate support for the many more people who are both older and living alone. In that context there has also been discussion of burnout among health care workers, including doctors who are leaving their profession, worn out by overwhelming caseloads and corporate directorships that dictate quantity of visits and hence revenue, over quality of care.

I am grateful for personal circumstances which suggest I will not be left alone to face the increasing limitations of aging. Though I am alone 4-5 days each week now, I can call on my partner to be here within 2 hours, should the need arise – and we are talking about a change in home base that would permit him to be at home with me each evening.

Stopping due to pain – hoping it is temporary and I can resume later this morning.

Well, that break was not a few hours, not even a few days or weeks, but more than a month. Limited energy forced different priorities for my time and/or I have been still trying to do most of the activities that have given me satisfaction or pleasure and a sense of purpose in my retirement, leaving nothing for writing. I am hopeful that starting the new year with a post will set the tone for 2023 and help me implement my desire to once again be an engaged writer.

Help for achieving that goal comes from a friend who has included me in the group of “beta readers” for his manuscript on living with and managing pain, and from another dear friend who has been using self hypnosis to cope, for a number of years with a level of pain she describes as “screaming”. I have much to learn from them, and from my own inner wisdom, as I seek to continue being “of use” to others in ways that are effective but less demanding of my limited energy.

So the very personal aspect of uncertainty I am now examining in my spiritual practice is that of learning to be maximally focused in the immediate now. For a person raised by a German Virgo father to plan well ahead, with two or three backup alternatives as the means to manage uncertainty, becoming able to just be, in the now of time, is essentially to shed what has been part of my core identity for all of my adult life. As I write those words, I hear the inner voice of my spiritual teacher assuring me that the mentally formulated concept of a core identity of planner is a total illusion – my core identity is Soul or spirit, all knowing and able to manage whatever life brings to my attention, so long as I keep my attention where it needs to be – in the present moment, open to being shown each next step.

So that is what I am taking as my task for this new year. Not a resolution, with its associated sense of mental discipline in order to be implemented, but rather a suggestion for where – and to what – I give the nourishing food of my attention. 

Here. Now. For each set of circumstances that arise for me to navigate.

So be it.

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