This I Believe

Paul - Traverse City, Michigan
Entered on May 22, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, question

I believe in uncertainty. Ironically, the way I see it, it is the only constant, the only certainty, in my life. You can say what you want about tarot cards and crystal balls, and Ben Franklin can rant all he wants about death and taxes, but in the end I still have no idea what tomorrow is going to be like. Nothing is certain, and I am so very certain that this is so.

At first, this drove me crazy. Being uncertain awoke agonizing, thorn-in-the-side questions whose answers can be predicted, talked around, and fabricated, but never really given. Will I live to be eighty? Do my unseen good deeds count for something in the next life? Is the hokey pokey really “what it’s all about”? No measure, no degree of concentrated thought could truthfully come up with the answers I wanted. Finally, after I was fed up with the undue stress that these questions brought on, I capitulated and stopped caring. My only solace was that Socrates, Plato, and the other much greater minds had not made any more progress than I.

But once my life’s uncertainty was grudgingly accepted, like a brutal character flaw in an otherwise amiable fellow, it became something of a personal tenet. Granted, the certainty of uncertainty makes for a perverted fact of existence, but what better to believe in than something that is so painfully valid, so “de fide”? But it does not end there, for because I believe in uncertainty, I am also forced to deal with it. To cope with doubt and the gaping holes it creates, I turn to faith. Every uncertainty filled in by faith – faith in God, in science, in human solidarity, in self-worth – helps keep me composed and in control. But most of all, uncertainty provides the right perspective, and the overall outlook that I have come to value. Since there are no guarantees of predestined success and happiness, I am driven to work hard and make the most of opportunities. But in the same breath, there is no inevitability of failure or misery, which releases me from tedious anxiety. Ultimately, what uncertainty gives me are chances, and the only thing one can do with chances are make the best of each one. Though I have no way of knowing what the next moment will bring, I cannot help but anticipate its arrival. With uncertainty, I have nothing to lose.