Certainty is an illusion. It doesn’t exist.
“What if you have a heart attack and die suddenly? What if both of you die? Are you not scared of your impending death? Doesn’t it worry you when you have so many responsibility and commitments – especially your debt to repay,” asked a member in the audience at my Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk recently.
I don’t grudge that question. I have thought about it to myself on several occasions. But I have also learnt that fearing uncertainty is the surest way to invite suffering into your Life. So, I always take the Kamaraj approach of “Agattum Parkalam” – “Let it happen, we will see!”
Certainty is a man-made illusion. Before you were born, where was the certainty that you would be? When you were an infant, where was the certainty that you would be provided for, fed on time, cared and loved? As you grew older you were tricked into this illusion of certainty __ you are sure to have a home, you usually have both parents with you, siblings, education is guaranteed, and you are bound to get a job, earn wages and raise a family! How much more simpler Life would be if only it were to progress in this certain, assured, linear fashion__one thing leading to another with such predictability and precision?
Just to demolish this illusion, and wake up to reality, if you live in any part of urban India, go to a busy traffic intersection closest to you. And after getting over the shock of seeing so many homeless, destitute children begging there, strike up a conversation with any or some of them. You will soon discover how uncertain their lives have been. And continue to be. Maybe some were abandoned by their parents. Maybe some were kidnapped by organized racketeers in the begging syndicate. They live on and off the streets. Abused by people like us who despise their presence and by heartless cops who extort their meager earnings from them. When you understand their Life’s design, you will awaken to the inscrutable, uncertain ways of Life. And when you think about it, you will just be grateful that you were born to your parents and not to theirs __ and there was no way ever you could have been certain of this realization until this moment!
It is also when you are faced with uncertainty for the first time, that you will stop taking Life for granted. A first layoff, a first health crisis, a first relationship break-down, a first financial crisis – that’s really when you begin to realize that perhaps you had read Life differently. That maybe, just maybe, you cannot really be certain about some things in Life.
The truth however is that you can be certain about nothing in Life. The way to deal with uncertainty is to welcome it. Don’t try to wish it away. Because it ain’t going anywhere. It is always here with you. For instance, if you have a good job, enough savings and investments to take care of your retirement, where’s the certainty that your health will be all fine or that your companion still loves you? Of if you have a health complication and have the best doctors treating you, where’s the certainty that you will still survive? Where is the certainty that your family members will live long enough to be with you till your very end? So, don’t try to crave for a Life without uncertainty. If you accept Life as being uncertain, you will find joy in each moment.
So, approach Life with a ‘what is’ than with a ‘what if’. ‘What is’ is a celebration of the moment you are in now and there’s nothing uncertain about that moment. It is happening. So, there can be no fear of it. ‘What if’ is fear-inducing and amplifies what is not yet. It is imaginary; it breeds fear and suffering. Literally, as in that iconic dialogue from Sholay, ‘Jo Darr Gaya, Samjho Marr Gaya’! In the end, it is so very simple: when you embrace uncertainty you will find immense joy and beauty in this totally unpredictable, inscrutable experience called Life!