What lies ahead of us is shrouded in the milky fog of mystery and the confounding muse of speculation that such mystery provokes. What lies behind us might tempt us to mystery and speculation, but it will only do so in regard to making sense of what lies behind us. And in this thing called ‘time’ and in this journey that we call ‘life,’ we are firmly and forever sandwiched between the known and the unknown. We live on the departing edge of that which is known but past, and we stand on the teetering precipice of that which is unknown and certain to come in whatever manner it comes.
Living Between the Known and Unknown
Living within the opposing poles of this conflicting conundrum wherein the past is known with all the comforts and angst of knowing, and future is unknown with all the anxiety that such mystery spawns, we often become stalled. What is known might be painful in a manner that breeches human tolerance, or devastating in a manner that drives us to the ghastly abyss of hopelessness. Yet it is known, which renders it predictable and safe because it’s cast and petrified in the permanence of history past. It will never be more than what it is, because it is forever bound to what it was.
The future has no such permanence. The future will only become petrified when it becomes a present reality, and after having done so it rolls off into the past to be permanently cast in the annuals of an unchangeable history. Yet, we are left with the vexing reality that once we have impounded what was once unknown in an immovable past, the next unknown immediately steps up to us. And so, it is always the case that the past is irreparably land-locked, and the future has yet to land. And here we are, living out our lives on the precariously thin line which separates the two.
Frequently, we prefer neither of the two options which leaves us abjectly stranded in our disappointment of life. The known of our past holds both good, bad and all the assorted variations in-between, but it is locked tight and affords us nothing other than what it is. The unknown of the future offers us unimagined possibilities, but it is plagued with risk and inundated with uncertainty. And so, we stand moribund on this thin line. We incessantly vacillate between what’s behind us and what’s before us depending on the current barometer of our courage and the ambivalent nature of our vision. And in the end, we move very little if at all.
The Known as the Handbook for the Unknown
We have naively forgotten that the unknown is not an option. Whether we wish it or not, life is constantly propelling us into the milky mystery of the future. Any sense that we have an option as to such a journey is something of a fictional myth and foolish notion. Since the journey into the unknown is indisputably non-negotiable, we would be wise to recognize that the known is the perfect handbook and flawlessly crafted tool that we have to effectively engage the unknown. Life is not about a choice between the two. Rather, it’s about recognizing that the resources birthed and spun from the known are the perfect resources to engage, embrace and seize the unknown. There is a nearly magical confluence where one permits the embrace of the other. It is the lessons drawn from what is known that are the very keys to the tumblers of the unknown. Therefore, we need not dance on the precarious line between the two. Rather, we reach backward into the known to seize the perfectly crafted resources to move forward into the unknown. And it is here, in embracing this priceless reality that we can run into the milky fog of the future with confidence instead of cowardice, fortitude instead of fear, and a heart ceaselessly emboldened by hope instead of incessantly undercut by hesitation. It is here that we live.