“The don’t-know mind doesn’t name, doesn’t fear, has no wish to control or foresee, steps off the cliff of the moment with absolute trust that the next step will land somewhere, and the next step somewhere else, and the feet will take us wherever we need to go. Without believing in words, there can be nothing to fear. Fear is born only to words believed, and what believes those words is a concoction of prior words believed. Who started all this confusion? You did. What can end it? Only you.”
– Byron Katie, A Mind At Home With Itself
People seem to get the impression that I have a handle on this not-knowing thing.
“You’re just so okay with creating in the Unknown!” they say. “You’re so brave.”
It’s true that I have fallen in love with not-knowing the answer to a question, and opening my mouth to discover the words that come.
I love having no idea what I’m about to write and putting my fingers on the keys to see magic emerge.
It delights me to let go of my expectations for a conversation or a dinner date and watch with curious fascination whatever unfolds.
But I still feel fear about what lies ahead…when I think about it.
It’s not Fear of the Unknown that scares us; it’s fear of what we’ve imagined might happen.
The Unknown is just unknown. It’s a roll of the die before you’ve glanced down to see the numbers.
There’s nothing scary about not-knowing until you make up the scary thing that’s coming. Like the boogeyman under the bed, it only feels real when you think about him.
It doesn’t require bravery or even trust to take that next step without knowing where it might be taking you, unless it looks like that’s a dangerous thing to do.
When you let yourself go into what is, like a leaf in the river current, it carries you wherever you’re meant to go.
You can’t possibly plan a path to navigate the swirls and eddies of the river, but thank goodness, you don’t need to.
In the moments we’re when not thinking, not worrying, we know the truth of what is.
This. Only this.
And it’s enough.
I am enraptured by this poem, and so I offer it to you as a pointer to the truth in those moments when you feel alone and afraid.
First Lesson by Philip Booth
Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
May you know yourself held, always.
Yours in love and play,