Some Zen type whose name escapes me, for good reason I’m sure, as so many things not essential to the moment at hand escape me these days, once said: “Not knowing is the most intimate”.
I was a young alternative growth group leader when I first heard this. Living in India, in a wildly alternative spiritual /therapeutic center, single parenting a child with little financial resources and no sense or semblance of security, I thought the saying was a kind of zen joke, that I clearly didn’t get, since the notion of a knowing anything seemed a tad fictional. I assumed understanding was above my pay grade, not hard since there was no pay for us lot, who worked every day, seven days a week, in service to the ideals of creating a model self-sustaining spiritual community and ecosystem. I was not uneasy with this state of flux.
Now that I’ve hit the mid section of my 7th decade, I may have an inkling as to what that saying is about. I get that you don’t get to reach out for a new branch of your own aliveness, if you are so busy holding all the options of your existing life tightly wound around both fists, which is how most of us want it. Don’t let there be any space, don’t tremble with uncertainty.
Some years back, when the sword of cancer hung over my head, I promised myself a year off, cancer or not. The verdict was not; but a whole work free year would be mine. Everyone I knew, asked, ‘So what will you do in your year off’? I was taking the year off to empty out, not to fill up. I don’t know! I don’t know! It scared me silly.
When I don’t know, the smooth well greased habit body takes a pause, to flounder, meander, to be less certain, directed. I find myself more curious, always more uncomfortable, something between magic and panic. Yet if I can wade through the empty, the doubts, what arises is often more amazing than anything I might ever have imagined.
Here I am writing to whomever, or to no one at all. A sunny Saturday afternoon. A quiet room. Who knew I could be so content!