Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Liberation of Uncertainty
I had an accident yesterday. There, I said it. Oh, nothing serious, just a fender bender, but enough to put my car into the body shop for two weeks. Yet I am reluctant to say anything about it. That insidious embarrassment that wells over one when something bad or tragic happens, struck me in the moment that I had to call Joe and let him know. What is this sense of being that makes us not want to let others know that we going through a challenging time. What is this feeling that makes us seem culpable for the trouble we have to deal with. It's like we haven't lived our lives right, or something.
I know you must have experienced it too. My friend sadly, and quietly told me his apartment had been robbed recently. I could feel his not wanting to say anything about it, yet something like that needs to be talked about, as you try to regain your balance and make sense of it. He didn't orchestrate the theft himself, yet he seemed to feel responsible for it, in a way that guilt often unjustly and erroneously attaches itself to you. Maybe it was someone he knew, maybe not, but why take responsibility for others actions, especially when you are the victim.
When we or a family member are stricken with a severe illness, the first reaction is to be silent about it, as if no one else knowing would render it not real. As if, we or they had done something terribly wrong and others mustn't know about it. Of course, these things happen, without intent on our parts, but we resist sharing them, as if, we had a plan that went awry.
I remember when my mom passed in '84, I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone. People would call, as usual, and yet I couldn't utter a word about it. It was as if I was going to spread bad news. When friends did find out, THEY spread the word and many people responded with an outpouring of love and affection and appreciation of who she was.
Today, in some ways, there has been a liberation in uncertainty. With the challenges many of us have dealt with, because of economic changes, many more of us are speaking up, as never before, about things that the "oppression of affluence" would have silenced. Conversations about business and work levels are more easily expressed than before. Topics as wide ranging as credit card rate manipulations and property value fluctuations to retirement fund devaluation or employment limitation are easily spoken about, in a way that the "affluent face" would not have dared bring forth. Even the ability to say "no" to our spending propensities have been enhanced. Just let a cold call marketer try to solicit a sale or donation from me these days, I hardly need to search for an excuse to say "no."
An open awareness and expression of the reality in our lives provides a freedom of action that can sometimes be circumvented by false or extravagant presumptions. Adversity is the other half of the coin of life that provides perspective and invention, and could be used in full measure to arrive at a better location in life.