What a year! When I think about where I was a year ago, I stood strong in a place of certainty about what 2020 would bring. Hoo boy! Was I wrong! On January 29, certainty was tossed out the door for that was the day I learned firsthand from a friend in China of the coronavirus.
As I look back, it is certainty which will not be going forward with me into 2021. Instead, I am now accompanied by a new and unexpectedly positive relationship with the unexpected. For it was in the unexpected that my life flourished these past twelve months.
Moving into Uncertainty
In May, I made a slightly crazy decision to move halfway across the country during a pandemic. After twenty years in Oregon, thirty years on the West Coast, and barely two months after the May decision, my daughter and I rolled into Tulsa, Oklahoma with all our worldly goods. Given the initial certainty of what 2020 would bring, this shift was both entirely unexpected and quite wonderful. Though I spent my childhood in Tulsa, returning here unexpectedly brought me home to myself.
I know for certain that challenges will show up. However, the balance and alignment I have searched for, especially since my divorce eight years ago, have shown themselves in the unexpected nature of this move and in the new home I have created for myself – next door to my daughter and down the road from my 90-year-old Father. Come what may, I got this: my life, my work, in my new home.
Within this motion, I am aware that there are many groups of which I am not directly a member. Of course, I am not one of the 350,000+ people in the United States who died from COVID-19. I’m not one of the 20+ million worldwide who have battled infection. Though I have friends who have been affected, I know no one personally who has perished. Even so, every day of my life since January has been affected in some manner by the pandemic.
I am also somewhat isolated. Partly because I have moved but mostly because I had already created a small bubble for my existence. Thus, this limited existence is how I am most similar with others.
There is very little certainty in dealing with contagion. For contagion comes in the unexpected. Even with masks and social distancing, a pandemic brings the unknown up close and personal. You and I both understand the chaos this entails. The judgment which ensues. The panic which arises. Nothing can quiet the unexpected.
Pre-2020, the stability of life which most of us enjoyed put the unexpected at a very long arm’s length away. Pushed out of sight and around the corner, I know I underestimated its presence.
The Certainty of the Unexpected
By the end of March, time had slowed drastically especially in my ability to plan ahead. Lockdown brought forward motion to an incredibly slowed pace. However, most everything came to a standstill as the unexpected uncertainty of contagion response yielded a certain clarity:
Every day we all face the unknown. Life comes in how we respond.
We humans don’t deal well with the unknown and the unexpected. We want clarity and we want to be able to plan ahead – to make sure we can maintain security, subsistence, and survival. We also want to create, connect, and contribute with self and others. Locked inside four walls indefinitely shifts our connections – especially in how we anticipate the unexpected.
For me, since I already lived alone and conducted my business on Zoom, I had already made the WFH move. I had also already been a student of the unexpected. For me, lockdown drilled down into deeper waters. Work wasn’t just what I did to make my livelihood. Work has also always been the path I choose in understanding the unexpected and releasing reliance on certainty.
Working with the Unexpected
In the last six months my work, my writing, has had a specific focus: To Do Your Work. This is my newest book which I hope will be out second quarter 2021. This is the writing which has come from the pandemic for me. Based on ideas gathered pre-pandemic, but sharpened by the blade of the 2020 unexpected, To Do Your Work is meant to be a guide to help navigate the unexpected and the uncertainty. For if there is anything of which I can be certain, it is this: The unexpected will continue to be a huge part of our lives. The unexpected has always been with us in a way which was much easier to ignore or to deny. Yet now? Well, now ignorance and denial won’t get you anywhere.
Embedded in my experiences of the last twelve months is this question: in this moment, what stands in the way of me being able to do my work?
This book, which I am furiously involved in writing right now, is a guidebook to help you answer this question for yourself.
I got through this year with an increased sense of self alignment and balance because I made friends with the unexpected. I was able to do this because I did my work, releasing knee-jerk reactions, old habits, and limiting beliefs.
Ask yourself: What keeps me right now from being able to do my work?
Maybe it’s your relationship with the unexpected or a demand for certainty. Whatever you come to, I’d love to hear!
As I move into 2021, I’m not looking for life to go back to normal. Instead, I know my “normal” is the unexpected. Always present, yet now I’ve learned more about the deeper moves of its stance. Join me, won’t you, as we dance into the unknown of 2021!
Elbow tap, elbow tap, and a couple of virtual hugs – here’s to the amazing opportunity of the unexpected within our New Year!
A lot of my writing just comes in the moment. I feel an urge rise to put pen to paper. No outline. Not much forethought. Out the words come, all on their own. For me its always an act of mindfulness. A mindful moment.
Here are more articles and posts that came to me in mindful moments.