As December is coming to a close, I am writing to you in good health, as I now feel normal again over a month after surgery. I could never have imagined the magnificence of simply feeling normal until now. But while my body has a normal state to return to, my life situation has a completely different story. Before surgery I was in the midst of searching for a new normal after my job of four years came to a close when its grant cycled out, and I was imagining new passions and opportunities that might emerge. A seizure, concussion, myriad of medical tests, and brain surgery later, that new normal hasn’t yet found its way into my experience.
Have you ever experienced a transition that seems to be followed by still more change? Have you seen uncertainty lead to greater uncertainty? When life shows its true colors by unmasking the illusion of stability you are left with an important task. That task is your reaction.
An easy go-to reaction is fear, but if you have had enough suffering you’ll bypass that one quite quickly. Another reaction, which may not even seem like a reaction at first, is waiting. You can wait out the uncertainty. You can wait to feel comfortable, at peace, joyful, and grateful until you have your new normal. Of course waiting to be at peace until your outer situation looks a certain way is the ego’s best kept secret in how to never be at peace.
Without fear and waiting, how can you react to uncertainty and transition? I have found that my favorite, most joy-filled, peaceful, hopeful reaction to such an outer situation is to allow myself to inhabit the present moment.
It feels a bit uncomfortable at first, and I always get the initial sensation that I have to distract myself with something. But after I let myself be present through the discomfort it turns out that the present is a pristine, perfect place to be, that asks nothing of me but my awareness of it. When I let myself place my attention on my sensory perceptions of the present, the mind, which is busy worrying and trying to fix various aspects of what it deems an unacceptable life situation, starts to lose steam. Real life emerges.
While the future feels like it needs constant attention, life is always happening right now and no place else. It isn’t waiting for you to notice it. You could go your whole life unaware that you’re only living in your mind and missing the moment that living takes place. But uncertainty will help you notice the living present if you let it. Life is beckoning you through every situation you find yourself in. This time let your life situation drive you home to the present moment. You’ll be glad you came.