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not knowing

I think it was Spring.

I think it was a Saturday afternoon, me sitting on the balcony of a friend’s charming apartment in Clarendon Court, a slightly dilapidated Victorian apartment block at the foothills of the Union Buildings. Sunlight filtering through the Jacaranda branches, a glass of white wine tear dropping on an uneven side table.

I was lazily flipping through a book my friend just pulled from his eclectic but fascinating bookshelf (very similar to his circle of friends). It was before I pursued my studies again. It was after an extremely difficult re-settling in South Africa – working in a draining job that I really didn’t want to do anymore. Then I stumbled upon this paragraph ~ the book was “After the ecstacy, the laundry” by Jack Kornfield:

“At the root of suffering is a small heart, frightened to be here, afraid to trust the river of change, to let go in this changing world. This small unopened heart grasps and needs and struggles to control what is unpredictable and unpossessable. But we can never know what will happen. With wisdom we allow this not knowing to become a form of trust.”

Waiting with bated breath on that which we have no idea about, allowing not knowing to become a form of trust. I lived by this maxim for a few years after encountering Jack Kornfield. And then it started fading again, overtaken by plans of action, trying to make a living (…and money) and managing everyday upheavals.

Trying to predict, trying to control, trying to possess. A few years went by…

Then re-reading the words of Maxine Sheets-Johnstone while writing my previous blog ~ to draw back “from an easy, ready-made everyday language and our turning first of all to experience itself”; to “bracket” our natural attitude towards the world and “thereby meet an experience as if for the first time”, a process where everyday judgements, beliefs and reactions are put aside, as well as “everyday habits of languaging experience”; to move experience itself to the foreground and listen to its interior dynamics, with the body as the foundation of experience…triggered the memory of the experience of sitting on the balcony, haphazardly reading Jack Kornfield. The memory had to ferment before I could write again…

I do not have a clear vision for my future. I struggle to imagine the next five years of my life (the tyranny of Facebook slogans and self-help books). Perhaps it’s to do with growing older. Perhaps it’s okay not to have a clue. Perhaps it’s a form of wisdom. Perhaps I should allow this not knowing to become a form of trust.

Note: I shall explore the connection between not knowing and bracketing within narrative therapy (and theology) in the next blog.

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