In New Mexico I (poorly) decided to drive around a ROAD CLOSED sign in late January that was blocking a mountain pass towards Albuquerque. I had seen other cars do the same on other roads, and thought, “Hey, why not my car?”
As I wound my way down to the valley, shadow took over and the snow on the ground became more significant. And with no cell service and no back-up plan, I realized that my car could not handle the thickening sleety snow. I turned the radio off so I could concentrate better and began a slow crawling-speed forward, hoping I could make it out the other side.
When I looked far ahead of me I became very nervous. How long is this road? Am I really all alone down here? Aren’t there bears in New Mexico? (Yes, I learned a lot from my naiveté, and here comes the point.) So to calm myself down I drew my gaze to just a few feet in front of my car. Noting the slow, but steady progress I was making, I was able to let go of some of my fear. And I believe that I learned something about life.
When we try to see the complete path of our life, we can get tangled in tremendous doubt and uncertainty. There are so many unknowns and so many questions that cannot be answered. “Will this relationship last?” “Will my child escape harm?” “Will I land that dream job?” “Will we know peace someday?” I can hope and I can pray, but I can never know.
To deal with this, sometimes petrifying uncertainty, it is good to draw back my focus to some of the more immediate tasks at hand. “What am I doing now to honor my partner and our relationship?” “What skills am I instilling in my children so that they can better handle life’s hardships?” “What actions am I taking in order to compete for the job I want?” “How do my actions increase the peacefulness of my current situation?”
I believe these questions help us to live right on that boundary between what we can and cannot control. We are still driven by our intentions and goals to expand our meaningful selves through time, while we remain anchored in the reality of our present moment.
Every now and then it is helpful and needed to look further ahead, to take the time to remember the limits of our control. We may be able to avoid a far off snow bank. Or, perhaps in the distance the snow has already melted away. By doing so we can appreciate the unknown as a mystery that can make our wildest dreams even greater than we could have imagined.