Unknowing and That’s Okay

Dear Readers, This is what it’s all about.  Time to get real.

I am not Expert.  I am Human Being who knows there is a need to adjust how we human beings move in our western world.  A body in motion can’t locate emotion as it propels ever forward away from the present to the look-ahead moment.  My life, one where I see, beg for, long for, and hope to live out alternatives, can become a lie at any moment, when I wave the white flag of conformity and cease to follow principles that I say are principles worth living by.  For me.  For you.  For everyone, whether acculterated or not by this society’s mores.

Only thing is, my brain pulls away from this and my body won’t let me.  My body lives in opposition to the this-is-how-it’s-done crowd.  Every thump of my heart takes me toward flying off the map, off the grid, off the barely beaten path.  Every message of society says sit still, get a proper job, risk nothing.  We emulate Gandhi, Mandela, King, Jefferson, Gyatso, Hanh.  Or at least we quote them a lot.  But then we become Romney, Thatcher, Nixon.  Hey, if Barack Obama can compromise his stated principles in just two years, why can’t we?  Blessed are the risk takers, but the conformists shall inherit the earth.

I don’t want to inherit the earth.  Just want to carve out my little slice, make my little difference, and let them ripple into the world.  But each phase, now that daddyhood beckons, tells me to get off my low horse and jump on the express train to wealth and modern-day success.  I keep getting reminded this by the what’s-nexters.  I meet them everywhere now that graduation is around the corner.  What’s next?  What’s next?  Well, I’m doing this or that and working on this plan and hope for this, but really it’s up in the air.  Have you heard we’re having a baby?  Oh, a baby, well, you’ll want to do this or that and work on this plan.

I finally admitted to myself that I am living in unknowning.  I said, “I don’t know what’s next, for I don’t.”  I’ve submitted to places that I hope will provide me with a next.  I know what I want to do, and at the same time, I’m starting to feel the box that I left closing in on me.  Oh, no, not again!

That’s my body talking not me, as if they’re separate.  It reminds me not to conform.  For each moment that I’m on the verge of following the rules writ large, my body goes into immediate breakdown mode.  I get reminded to stay on my path, to live in unknowing, because my shoulders start to ache, sending my neck into a throb, landing down behind my eyeball.  Once it gets to my eyeball, I am down down down.  A standing eight count followed by another beating.  I get back up.  Down I go.  Up.  Down.  TKO.  Disrupted painful sleep, all because I keep getting drawn into my 34 years of societal training, rather than my 34 years of dreaming.  Let’s be clear.  I learned it from the world around me.  You all should know, my cool parents (who read it all) still encourage the dreamy dreamer.  They managed to avoid training me in this-is-how-it’s-done-ese.

Dreaming’s for the rich, right?  Economics, economics, economics, economics.  The economy is down.  Fear!  Jobs are at a premium.  Fear!  We tie our health care to our jobs.  Fear!  We need to drive and gas is up.  Fear!  Food prices rising.  Fear!  Do it our way or no way is the message, but how well is “our” way going for the majority of us?  We only get stuck in the practiced way of doing things via fear and it is this fear of falling through a crack that keeps me coloring in the lines, even though much of my life has been spent tracing the margins.

With a baby on the way, there’s more fear to be had.  Do it “our” way and I’ll have that security born in regular pay and possibly health care, though I know people, people close to me who did it “our” way and did it well and were abandoned by the side of the road the moment the pavement turned to gravel.  Maybe I should have followed my fellow English majors into the world of investment banking.  Or maybe our economy is where it is because English majors were enticed to be bankers.  That’s when I knew something was up.  I actually went to college to learn.  Oopsie!

So, I came to graduate school to learn, something of my choosing, after years of experimenting with what I found to be a calling.  I’m well-trained to be a DIY wellness healing type of fellow.  And with that comes the risk of not following the beaten path.  That excites me.  And then those well-practiced messages come roaring back.  Gots to be responsible now that the baby is on the way.  Otherwise it’s foolish.  And the moment I come back to the “our” way of doing, another part of my body gives out.

Belly aches.  Tenseness in my stomach.  When am I not clenching something?  Be they my shoulders or my colon.  Something is tight, because my body keeps saying to me – “LIVE IN THE I DON’T KNOW!!!”  But, but, but, but but that’s now how it works in my country.  If we do the I don’t know, we are putting it on the line and that line is thinner than ever as we masquerade on-your-ownness, safety-net missing, fifteen stories up with a balancing bar the size of a toothpick, as freedom.

So, I alternate headaches, neck aches, shoulder aches, stomach aches.  I don’t sleep.  All because I keep hedging away from my principles.  There has got to be a different way.  I’ve been seeking.  I hope you’ve been seeking, because we are a populace that has great illness, often because we have compromised happiness for security, a false security as we feed from the trough of the takers, which at any moment they can take away.

My jaw has been hurting, my masseter quite tight, likely because I have been stifling the I don’t knows and dancing around this issue.  I’ve been telling myself this weekend as the aches mentioned above have torn through my body that I have to be happy with I don’t know, because I don’t know will quiet all the chatter, quiet the searches down the roads I don’t want to be on, quiet the conversations internal and external that keep telling me to jump back onto the treadmill, the hamster wheel, to not worry about the shackles I said farewell to when I joined my graduate studies.

My body keeps telling me loudly, clearly, with more precision than the previous time.  My brain keeps overruling, thinking it’s in charge.  Yet no matter how much my brain works, my body can click off all efforts with the swift hammering behind my eyes.  And cause my brain to focus on the vise clamped on my intestines.  Body 5,000 – Brain 6.  Yet the brain thinks it has a chance.

Brain, listen to body, the only conformity perhaps worth having.  To let the fear that living in our society appends to every day life flow through and around me, dislodging from behind my ears.  To listen to what the I don’t know really means.  To breathe the sweet spring air that now permeates.  And to trust that perhaps it will not come in moments of thought, rather in moments of being or doing, where the I-don’t-know turns into an AHA.

AHA!!!  Two out of three letters spell, AH.  Ahhhhhhh…..

I must practice what I preach to others.  My well-being depends on it.  My future child’s life needs it.  And in the new quiet I welcome in, I have a feeling it will come.

Welcome Spring!  Show me your wisdom so that I may bring it to the world.

If nothing else, I’ll be quotable.

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5 thoughts on “Unknowing and That’s Okay

  1. Chris, this is beautiful. The unknowing is beautiful as well… Continue to embrace it. And thanks for posting this…because I think a lot of us live in this same boat…but I will speak for myself. You have baby on the way, I have baby (ok-not a baby anymore) already here…and I get pressure too just conform and get a job. I choose to go to grad school as a single mom who can barely take care of herself and child financially (w/no help from the childs other half) so you can imagine the side eyes I sometimes get, the ones not always spoken but felt. I also get the “what are you gonna do with that” questions though graduation for me is a few corners farther away than yours…and I too often must respond with a bunch of words that in the end all say “I don’t know”. And I struggle with that too–so I appreciate this post as it reminds me that the unknown is ok. My path will lead me to where I need to be…and for sure it wont be the road most travelled…but that’s what makes it all the more worth the journey of taking it. What awaits on the other side will surely be greater, and bring more peace than the false security of a “secure” job with benefits can ever give.
    Peace and unknowing…
    and YEAY for the English majors!

  2. Chris, I am seeking with you! I think this giving voice and awareness to the struggles within yourself is so powerful. You are awake, and it matters so much. Your line about English majors enticed to be investment bankers really struck me. My intention with my work is to empower as many people as possible to be who they actually are rather than who they are supposed to be. If you didn’t watch/see the TED talk by Brene Brown I posted on my FB business page, take a look. I think it will really speak to you right now. May spring energy help us both to continue to be present and awake and to clearly see the most authentic next step, right in front of us.

  3. Hi, I’ve just happened on your blog somewhat randomly, and am enjoying catching up on posts. Thank you for all your wonderful thoughts! I’d be curious to hear your take on the recent Osama Bin Laden news. I found the whole thing really unsettling and I’m not sure why. Rock on!

    • Welcome to the blog – feel free to subscribe! Regarding the recent events, I haven’t had too much to say, in part because the news is so fresh and because I witnessed such bloodthirsty, vengeful Facebook statuses that I went to bed somewhat disturbed last night. This is modified from something I wrote when my friends asked me why I was so quiet today. As a pacifist, I am not wired to celebrate violence and death. I’ve been this way since long declaring a philosophy of pacifism. Last night’s news provided such jarring reactions – from violent rhetoric (and I understand catharsis and getting out the stress) to immediate partisanship – that I wonder if we’ve learned much over the past decade. I’ve directed people to look at the works of John Perkins (his Economic Hit Man series for the nitty gritty and his Andean spirituality books for the hope) and Howard Zinn, because violence is a symptom and we’re not addressing the root.

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