Not Knowing

Mud settle picFrom the moment we’re born, we have a built-in protection system to survive and a passion to thrive.  So, we’re curious.  We want to know.  And we begin, learning, knowing more.

I’ve been on the “Knowing” trail all my life, thank goodness.  It got me through school; it  was key my career; it helped me be a better parent and friend.   As life brought new situations I didn’t understand, I used my “knowing” skills to learn, more so I could move through it.

∞ ∞ ∞

What do we do when “knowing” is not enough?  When we can’t change an unwanted situation?  This is where I found myself when my mother was dying, my marriage was ending, my companion cat, lost.  But it’s not just the “big” times in life, it’s the every day moments when life feels in charge –  like being stuck in traffic, computer crashing before a deadline, not getting the expected call back.

Often, our first reaction is to “do” something, anything; after all, action is a great elixir for feeling in control.  We find ways to fix situations, solve conundrums, understand them, distract ourselves from them, sometimes, we just shut down.

∞ ∞ ∞

wheel_2_lgAn essence of the Buddhist tradition is the “Wheel of Life.”  It portrays the nature of our cyclical experience: life and death – birth is followed by death, death is followed by birth; feeling good and feeling miserable – one moment all seems to be going well, we’re happy and the next moment we’re upset about something.  Their teachings help us open awareness to see the patterns and discover for ourselves, our path to peace.

Now, I’ve “known” this for many years.  At times, I’m aware enough to see the pattern and have the presence to fall into a broader, more loving perspective.  I remember, “All is well”, “This too shall pass”, “I honor the wisdom I cannot see”, I look to find the hurt behind the anger and open my heart to loving both.

Other times, I get lost.  Life draws me in:  I see things going on in the world I don’t like or don’t understand.  Or something happens to me that seems so foreboding, unfair, crazy, inconsiderate that it lights my inner fireworks.  Kaboom, I’m spinning on the wheel, diving into my mind and emotions to get the support and justification I need to feel better.

The past few weeks, in life’s flow, I’ve found myself spinning on the wheel.  I’ve done everything I know to quiet my inner reaction to life.  I got busy taking care of things; I went to the movies, I repeated affirmations and dropped into meditations.   But none of it worked, for long.

∞ ∞ ∞

DarknessVulnerable.  A challenging place to be.  Not only that, in the midst of life’s commotion, the more I did, the more tools I used, my feeling of vulnerability intensified.  I thought all of this would help me steer clear of the wheel and its inner tsunami, or at least calm it for awhile. It didn’t.  I got more.

Finally, one moment, in one day, vulnerability exploded into despair.  I collapsed and cried “I don’t know.  I’ve done my best, all that I knew how to do, I can’t do anymore.  I don’t know.”

∞ ∞ ∞

images-1Spiritual wisdoms teach us the concept of surrendering to Life that exists beyond us.  Here, they tell us, we come into tune with sacredness – the love and grace that is Life’s essence.

But, surrender is counterintuitive to our human minds.  Our human selves like succeeding and winning.  It’s built-into our way of life – school, work, hobbies, and even self-help programs.  Yet, experience reminds us that we don’t always hit our targets, win the game, stay in relationships; and that somehow in coming through the hardest of hard times, we find our inner strength and a deeper ability to love.

My cry, “I don’t know”, was an explosion of deep surrender.   There was no place to go, nothing to do.  Never before have I experienced this inner quiet – a place of deep, deep peace.  A place without words.  A place of feeling connected to Life – not as I know it, as it is.

∞ ∞ ∞

My mind has no idea what this means or where I go from here.  I will say I feel more present to life, grounded, centered.  And, I know that I am not alone – not because my mind tells me so, but because I feel it to be true.  In this moment, that is enough.  I’ve begun again.


Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

River Flow, David Whyte

Thanks for reading,



About Kathleen

At the heart of my being, I am a creator, explorer and teacher. I love moving a concept into life so I know what life feels like – first hand – and then I share it and put the new knowledge into action.
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