[BGmusic: Shadow Stabbing by Cake]
I once had a professor who would reprimand the class whenever we used the phrases “I think”, “I guess”, etc.
“‘I think’?? Of course that’s what you think, we all know that’s what you think,” Sir Behn would yell. “Go straight to the point!”
He hated how we used those phrases as disclaimers, how we made them soften the blow of our ideas, never allowing ourselves to sound certain about how perceived the world. To put it simply, we lacked conviction.
It was an initiation of sorts for me, and after that class, I tried to find my authoritative voice. Ridding myself totally of “I feel”s and “I suppose”s in my personal life wasn’t practical – as, of course, they help in sticky situations when there are fragile feelings to be taken into account – but Sir Behn’s advice was useful in the classroom, and later, the workplace.
Fast-forward to the present day, and I’m a completely different person, full of “I guess”es. I used to have a lot of things I was certain of – okay, maybe not a lot. Several? A handful? Anyway, today, I’m not sure if I have any more certainties left. (See? I’m even uncertain about my uncertainties!) Sometimes it pulls me down – the weight of all the things I don’t know, all the things I’ll never know. I used to be certain about my ability to tell colors apart, but now I’m not so sure if I can properly distinguish a specific shade of blue-green from a specific shade of green-blue. I used to be certain about the goodness of people, but now… well. I used to be certain about my inevitable happiness, but what if this is all there is?
I used to use my certainty to get me from one day to the next, spurred on by the conviction that there was something good waiting for me on the other side. Now that I’ve lost that conviction, now that I know that anything – good or bad or a whole lot of nothing – could be waiting for me, I find myself stuck. I know I can’t kid myself and fake certainty. I tried that and it left me empty, feeling like a fraud.
I’m not sure what’s next, what I’m supposed to do now.
And as I’m not sure about what lies in store for me, I’m not sure how to end this post. I suppose I could end in a more positive note, but to do that I shall have to borrow words, as I think that if I try to dredge up a semblance of something hopeful it’ll just ring hollow and shall depress us further. So, if you understand where these rambling musings are coming from, here’s a hopeful something for you and me:
Quote for the day:
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
- Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning
Here’s another su’hn su’hn from a self-help dude:
“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”
- Tony Schwartz
That’s it for today. I guess.