This is a strange time we are all living through with the arrival of COVID-19 as we watch this pathogen spread illness and fear globally and locally. At times none of it feels real; some days I feel distant and removed from it, like watching a movie of something that is happening to other people, but not to me as I sit in what I presume is the safety of my living room. But then, we go to the grocery store and see empty shelves, drive by closed stores and restaurants, and travel freeways without traffic – who thought we could miss the familiarity and predictability of traffic – but I kind of do! The regular rhythms of our lives have been abruptly interrupted and that is jarring. I like knowing what I can count on, even if it’s a negative because I can plan for that, but this pandemic, how do you plan for that? How do you plan for or cope with what you don’t know?
This got me thinking about the value of uncertainty. In scientific terms, uncertainty represents the range of possible values in which a true measurement exists. Even in things that we can measure, we can never pinpoint the true value of anything. So we live with uncertainty every day. French philosopher Voltaire wrote, “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.” What might happen if we can learn to sit with the discomfort of uncertainty? What important questions might rise to the surface of our minds that, if answered, could actually help us to live better and more fulfilling lives? I like author Mandy Hale’s take on uncertainty: “When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”