Not being afraid
Of what I don’t know
I unanxiously await the emergence.
Nikki Giovanni, Space
What I don’t know. It can keep me tossing and turning in the bed, unable to surrender my over-thinking mind to sleep. It can put me on edge so that regardless of what else I am doing, I am ramped up in my feelings and shut down in my ability to think clearly and listen well.
Knowing what we know, and our ability to rely on that, is one of the things that we use to keep ourselves calm and centered. Whether we like what we know about life or not, the confidence we have in what we know somehow creates a balance and a framework that we can work with.
Just let any of that change. Word gets out at work that there is going to be some downsizing. Look at the ceiling and see a leak that wasn’t there yesterday. Let the doctor say “we’ll do some tests to see what this is” and then “you’ll have to wait 3-5 business days for the test results.” One of your children calls or comes into the house and says “can I talk to you about something?” Your significant other is just “off” today. A pain in some part of our bodies shows up, out of the blue. This list could fill pages. We know those moments when what we thought we knew is called into question, and we no longer know.
Nikki Giovanni does not make light of these moments in these lines from her poem. She embraces the struggle. She knows the pain. She has also lived through enough of these scenarios to know that she can surrender even to what she does not know (yet), and find a new center, a new peace. The center of not knowing. The center of waiting. The center of being unanxious. I suspect that we know how to do this, too, but we don’t engage in it as often as we do the anxiety that these new situations provoke. I think it can work like this. The new and unexpected arises. After allowing ourselves to feel what that is for us, we settle ourselves with some conscious breathing, and then we choose to move our hearts and minds into this new space: I don’t know XYZ. Breath. And so I wait for the new emergence. When it arrives, I know that I will find my way through.
If we look back over our journeys, we do see all those times when we had to shift into not knowing, and then knowing some new reality. And we made it through. And we will, again.