Last week I wrote a post “Plan B”. Synchronicity prevailed and Plan B, by Anne Lamott, landed on my stack of books to read. I moved it to near the top a couple of weeks back after reading her Stitches. I’ve long been a fan of her writing. So moving Plan B to the top of the pile was an easy call.
I read it cover to cover over the weekend. The book’s stories took place just prior and during the Iraq War. (circa 2004). As an avowed progressive, Lamott was in a state of angst over political leadership, specifically Bush taking us into an unnecessary war and lying to the public to justify. Sound familiar? She wrote about the anxieties of those times which, by hindsight and contrast to today’s context, seem like no big deal. This, even though it was assuredly a real big back then.
All that aside the below paragraph in Plan B just leapt out:
“The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. But certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, the discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”
The only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Like it or not we don’t get certainty. What we do get is the opportunity to deal with uncertainty (hopefully together.) Have faith and go for a walk ( virtual or otherwise). “Certainty is missing the point entirely.”
With times as they are, uncertainty abounds. This got me thinking about isolation.
I’ve been in voluntary isolation for over two weeks. I elected isolation after being in physical proximity to a colleague from Seattle who was exposed to Covid 19 there. He did not have the dreaded virus but abundance of caution to self quarantine made sense to me.
Now truth be told, I am a confirmed introvert. Solitude and being alone are to me a preferred state. The world of ideas and the dance of the monkeys in my head are most often, more than enough entertainment to occupy. Into the cave with enthusiasm I went. Confessedly, there was a momentary pause or pang of consciousness. Will I get an overload of me… alone? Onward.
Early today after over two weeks into solitary, I read an article in the Washington Post, written by a former prisoner, about surviving the real version of solitary confinement. The day prior, I read an article by Scott Kelly about his experience of being alone in space for over a year. Both articles contained helpful thoughts, insights, and indeed advice.
As my mentor Lee Thayer says, “If you don’t know the difference between good advice and bad advice, no advice will help." That said, the expertise at solitary of these authors, seemed more relevant than that of those solitary newbies currently overwhelming my inbox. Notice no advice from me.
There is some irony, not lost on me, that in my professional work as a “guide,” I non-teach the importance of connection. Connection, the human-to-human variety, is a requirement for human survival. Parenthetically, altruism is also another requirement. Neither of these these, it seems, can be accomplished solely alone.
I once searched and uncovered the lineage of the word “alone”. My search led me to earliest definition “All plus One”. Change the meaning? Connection, altruism and alone, as all plus one, leads to what I can do to help?
What can you do to help?
What can we do to help?
All plus one cannot be really solitary can it?
It's worth repeating. The only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Like it or not we don’t get certainty. What we do get is the opportunity to deal with uncertainty (hopefully together), have faith and go for a walk ( virtual or otherwise). “Certainty is missing the point entirely.”
I have opened my calendar to help those who feel they have a need to talk about the issues I talk about in this blog post. Should you feel the need or want to discuss this, please book a session with me.