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Uncertainty 101

Never in my wildest imagination did opening my doors for business during the peak of a global pandemic cross my mind.  Originally scheduled to launch months ago, there were numerous delays that crept into and through winter, finally wrapping up in spring.  Just in time for fair weather, right?

That six month delay, so I thought, was a gift of time.  Time to get ahead in writing articles for this webpage which would allow me the luxury of strategically rolling them out at a steady pace. I had a plan.  A plan that was also in order with my marketing plan.  It gave me a sense of certainty.

But there I was, preparing to post the first article according to the plan.  Then it came.  With a force.  Not so much like a tidal wave washing over me, rather similar to being on the receiving end of a torrent of dirty water from a street puddle.  When out of nowhere it seems, a car drives by just close enough to hit the puddle on the street perfectly aligned with your position on the sidewalk and BAM!  There you are, covered with sticky particles of street debris and dripping of grimy water mixed with who-knows-what.  No towel to clean up - just you, stopped dead in your tracks, smack in the middle of a WTH just happened moment - the result of something entirely out of your control.  That's how I felt.  Uncertainty had arrived.

Then the questions fueled by doubt and fear came hurling at me like darts.  Should I wait?? How will any of the pre-written articles even begin to resonate with my target audience during these troubling times?? Who is my target audience now??  If I start over, will it be good enough to capture anyone's attention??  Is it all pointless??

I was face to face with uncertainty.  It was staring me down.  That same uncertainty that most of humanity is facing during the looming global crisis labeled COVID-19.  A world-wide experience of uncertainty beyond measure of any other experience at this scale, in living memory.  Lives across the planet lost or abruptly turned upside down and left at a standstill.  Orders to shelter-in-place, to stay-at-home.  And we are not accustomed to staying put.  We are chronic doers - busy projecting desired outcomes for a future we have only begun to plan - and usually with a fair degree of certainty.

So I began to draft a new article that would address these trying times.  Full transparency - it was a struggle.  After months of excitement and anticipation I was feeling nothing short of bewilderment.  This was supposed to be a message ripe with positive outlook, directed to a target audience who was ripe to connect with nature.

The fear and grimness of uncertainty was creeping into my psyche.  The pressure of meeting a deadline was rising and I was resisting.

Then something moved outside of my office window catching my eye.  Glancing to investigate, instead, the background view of blue sky and green tree tops grabbed my attention. And then it came.  This time it washed over me.  Like a gentle but soaking rain after a long dry spell.  Get outside.  Practice what you preach.

So I did.  I stepped outdoors to take a walk.  And in spite of living in a busy urban area where I can often literally feel the vibration of airplanes taking off from the adjacent airport, I have easy access to a nature trail that frames a buffering wetland.  I hit the trail.

While not easy, I gathered every tidbit of my ability to intensely focus on my feet.  Feel my feet touching the ground, with every step I took.  When Mind Chatter and its partner Anxiety started dancing around me, I acknowledged their presence, sent them packing and returned to the rhythm of my feet.  Then I coaxed myself to fine tune my hearing into the birdcalls and rustling leaves, altered with the sound of my pace on the crushed rock trail.  After a few minutes, I added another layer - feeling the breeze pass across my face.  I rounded it out by closely observing the new foliage emerging from the trees and ground in that lovely shade of fresh green that sings a chorus known only to spring.  I had an entire ensemble.

I stopped at the waters edge as a pair of ducks glided effortlessly across the water.  I watched the ripples created by their wake which led me to notice the mirror image on the water's surface of the sky and towering trees above.  Reminded me of Anais Nin's words on how good we humans are in seeing things as we are, instead of seeing things as they are.  I took pause.  I put my attention on the here and now of where I was at that very moment.  It was all so absurdly simple yet so incredibly therapeutic.  The overwhelm and anxiety I was experiencing just fifteen minutes earlier?  Poof!  Gone.  Forever?  Unlikely, but for now, yes - which is all that mattered.  Shifted my perspective of what really matters amid the chaos.

I returned indoors and started writing - nothing elaborate or profoundly moving, just an in-the-moment shared experience with a heartfelt takeaway. That just as life in the wetland is emerging from its winter rest, and birthing new life into an uncertain world, we too will emerge with a new perspective after a rest of sorts, into a world of uncertainty.  And just as the incredible life in the natural world is constantly changing and adapting, perhaps we will finally learn that we are also equipped to do the same.

Wishing you wellness on this 22nd day of April, 2020.

Cynthia

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