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Making Sense of Uncertainty, Chaos, and an Unknown Future



This week I want to share my recent musings and contemplations on a subject I've been spending some mental energy thinking and musing over, during these unconventional times. The subject matter is about navigating through uncertainty and chaos while recognizing we can be grounded and come from a place of stability.


Sometimes life seems like it is on solid ground with a clear path to a predictable future. At other times, life appears chaotic, and the future is not only unexplored but unknowable. There are also moments where we simultaneously experience certainty and uncertainty, and the known and the unknown. These phenomena seem to be happening individually and collectively as our world goes through these unusual times. How do we make sense of it all? Or, as some folks say, "Make it make sense!"


I noted previously that part of what is happening with the shift in today’s world is chemicalization. There is a clash between an old way of being and the new ideas that are emerging. Today, I offer an additional perspective to consider to help us mediate between the orderly known and the unexplored unknown.


There is a medieval story in which the earth is covered by a gigantic dome. According to this ancient symbolic tale, the earth represents the solid ground. A man stands on the planet, pokes his head through the dome, and looks out into the chaotic and unknowable world beyond. This man simultaneously experiences two worlds. He's on solid ground, which is everything from his familiar past. Then as he bursts through the dome, he gets a glimpse of the yet-to-be-revealed and unknowable future.


As we step into the yet-to-be-defined and possibly chaotic future, we must stay grounded in the here and now. What keeps us grounded as we go through this paradigm shift, the accompanying chemicalization, and the yet-to-be-defined future, is our prayer and meditation practice. Prayer and meditation keep us stable as we step into any turbulence to reach our new future. In the meantime, we're on edge between the old and the new way of being.


Interestingly, the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol, among other things, symbolizes the elements of order and chaos, or what's seemingly permanent and what's forever changing. The two parts of the symbol, the Ying dark on the right and the Yang light on the left, have opposite colored dots on each side. The Taoists recognized that a new order can arise out of chaos.


By the same token, if we're in a place that's orderly and predictable, something can happen that can cast us into what appears to be a chaotic situation at a moment's notice (e.g., a global pandemic). So there's a dynamic interplay between the Yin and the Yang.


Another name for Tao is "The Way." The Taoists came up with a brilliant idea about the symbol. According to Taoism, the line between the Yin and the Yang is the ideal position for humanity to place itself. Why? Because if there is too much rigidity and order, life becomes stagnant and uncreative. However, if there is too much chaos and uncertainty, we can end up living a life dominated by fear, emotional upset, and even depression.


Consequently, Taoism claims the ideal place for us to navigate life is on the line. We have one foot grounded in stability and order, and another foot in the unknowable and seeming disorder. It is in that place of tension that interesting, compelling, and transforming stuff happens. Happenings like these are available to us. That's what my mind has been musing on this week.


Peace and Blessings,

James




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