Facing the unknown

is a lot easier when you have dealt with unfinished business of the past and resolved all past missing pieces and conflicts, and truly know, understand, and accept yourself. As well, such is easier if you have made many plans for the future as if nothing else will change. By doing so, you direct the course of your own life quite apart from whatever else may happen.

There are two schools of thought relative to such anxieties. One says You should live each day fully, as if it was your last because “you never know”. I must admit it is very satisfying having full, constructive, forward-moving days–taking care of biz, doing a variety of activities, and getting things done, while leaving room for impulse, pleasure, and serendipidity.

The other school says Live as if you will live forever with no special regard or anxiety for passing time. This view is closer to a fatalistic one that we will all die one day, that death is inevitable and so one might as well enjoy the immediate passing moment. This view is also reflected in the way many people live–they just ‘go on’ without seemingly a care to actual limits, limitations, and a more realistic sense of process; i.e., that we can be accidentally ‘rubbed out’ at any time.

Which to choose? Obviously we all, at different times, live by both approaches.
I feel, though, more and more, as I age, the inevitability of process, my own limits and limitations, and some days I just enjoy or savour a la approach 2. But other days can also be comforting with the first approach–knowing one has anticipated many possibilities and already acted and chosen (route 1). In that, no restlessness–instead, peace, and acceptance that defies whatever sudden challenges or turn of events.

Thoreau’s comments on walking (in the previous blog entry) can be applied in a larger sense to one’s own life. Similarly, Hamlet’s “The readiness is all.” And the title of my 2001 poetry book Negative Capability–a phrase from John Keats, sums up this position–“This is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without reaching any irritable reaching after fact or reason.”

If/whenever such a balance has been achieved, there is a satisfied inner state consisting of relative peace, integrity, acceptance, and letting go that looks through, past, and beyond whatever imagined or real crisis or challenge, there follows a profound sense of both arrival and completion in one’s own life.

And one is really ready for whatever–Thoreau’s walk, the continuous massive societal and cultural changes of the day, great losses of those closest to one, major upheavals in living conditions or lifestyle, serious illness, tragedy, and even death.

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