Not rushing to fix ambiguities


The period between Christmas and New Year has a distinct tone and  a change of rhythm. There is an intensity about the Christmas period which can stir us up; to add to this we will soon be bombarded by the messages of New Year resolutions and dramatically  fixing our lives. So one or two posts about how to deal with this time, when the temptation is often to make abrupt changes in the face of the different parts of our lives.

There is a certain type of uncertainty which is just part of being human, and which we cannot control, such as that which comes from illness. This fundamental ambiguity – the unsatisfactory nature of life and of circumstances  – is always there in the background. It can be accentuated at periods like Christmas, and we intensify our efforts to get solid ground. So the dilemma is how to live wholeheartedly as adults in the realization that some elements will always be displeasing and we are never fully going to get it all together. How can we hold different parts together  – “manage the grey” – when we prefer things to be simply black or white: 

Most of us are uncomfortable when things are undefined, when things are not clearly to or for, up or down, left or right, or right or wrong. But the deeper truths always take time to reach us, and it is our job to enter a practice of waiting openly – which involves enduring the tensions of not-knowing. The truths that matter require us not to form opinions or beliefs hastily. On the contrary, we are asked to allow time to surround us with the Wholeness of life, to take the time required for the paradox of truth to show itself. It seems that the practice of not-knowing begins with a trust in the unnameable space that holds us, in the mysterious atmosphere in which we all live. That seems to be the true space of listening and learning, where our brief experiences of life in its totality, whether harsh or calm, will not fit into our tidy little maps of perception.

Mark Nepo

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