Hesitation and assurances
The following is an entry from my journal.
It is 5 o’clock. Three more hours until the sun rises and the electricity is back up. I told someone about this state of affairs and they replied “does it not bother you?” It is uncomfortable at times, yes, as I have work to do on the computer, though it does not annoy me. I knew this was part of the process. The hut will become a decent place after a lot of hard work and perseverance from my side. It is fine for me to live in, though I am aware it is not up to standard in many aspects.
I used to be hesitant with the grand choices in my life. I would not commit to them out of fear that I left something out or missed an obviously superior alternative. They are important, after all, and I want to be picky. I was thus comfortable in inertia, in not upsetting my status quo, even though I did not really feel fulfilled in it. What I was fundamentally searching for was some guarantee that the future will be the way I need it to be. In other words, I was a fool for not recognising the reality of the human condition and how faith—not certitude—is at the root of all our actions.
A few years back, the hut would not have happened in the presence of more certain options. Not even “better” ones, just “certain”. I was not the same person with regard to the commitment I now have towards my causes. I would have performed a cost/benefit calculation and picked the safest option even if I did not really like it. I would thus console myself that I made a rational choice, rationality being the false god of many a thinker.
I have learnt though that certainty does not exist in our life. From the little things to the major decisions, we have to perform leaps of faith. When I first got Atlas, was I sure that he would turn out to be such a smart, kind, and protective dog? No. When I decided to quit my career and move to the mountains, did I have guarantees that things would work out the way they did despite all the hardship? No. Insistence on assurances is what ruins our appreciation of the present and what ultimately prevents us from experiencing what we need.
I have no regrets about the hut, though it is true that the idea behind it was not my plan A: I was originally trying to find a job abroad and was prepared to migrate away from my beloved dog and the lands that give me peace. Not because I got tired of this place, but simply due to the economic realities and the pressure I was facing to find affordable housing. To build something on my own was an out-of-the-box idea that I ultimately committed to.
The hut project was an intimidating challenge. Assuming all that responsibility and sticking with it for months requires mental fortitude at a high level. There were and are lots of doubts, including about my own abilities to accomplish the individual tasks. Every initiative of this sort involves a powerful “what if I fail?” that engenders second thoughts.
I considered my options carefully and picked the one my heart kept favouring. Why the heart and not the mind? In the face of radical uncertainty, we cannot find definitive answers and must thus rely on our intuitions. What builds character are the moments we boldly defy the words of the lazy naysayer within. I put trust in my talents and was eager to rise to the occasion. The first person to believe in me was me. “If I fail” I thought to myself “I will be exactly where I would have been had I kept dithering.”
There is no amount of persuasion and convincing I can do to convince anyone about future outcomes. No matter how good my rhetoric is and how charming or endearing my method, I will still fail to guarantee a state of affairs yet-to-be-constituted. All I can hope for is that the person sets aside those nagging thoughts and follows their gut feeling.
As a philosopher, I had to overcome the strong bias in favour of reason. Yes, it is important though it is not the only facet of our being. Experience teaches me that the human condition is multifaceted and that no one side gives us all we need. Just how I have to water all the trees I planted around the hut, so must each of us tend to all facets of their personhood, from the body, to the emotions, to the spirit. Why deprioritise or altogether loath one of them? All are part of a singular reality that is not of our doing yet we are involved in. Favouring one of them is a mistake that we keep suffering from, because we cannot be disembodied, emotionless, or mindless humans. To be human is to have all those facets. The task, then, is to recognise the importance of stricking a balance between all of them and work towards that end.
It is okay to strategise and to have a clear idea of the possible known outcomes. What is harmful is to believe that every minute decision can work this way and that plans are always carried out down to the last detail. The life of a perfectionist strategist goes by with them as an observer in it; not participating, not playing the game they could be playing. Why? Why not let go of the misbegotten belief that humanity can be omniscient? Uncertainty and risk are intolerable at times, I know, though they are inevitable. To be human is to be ignorant. By how much is beside the point.
I have been writing for almost an hour now. It is still dark outside. I shall ready myself for a walk and then get back home for another long day of work. There are always doubts and second thoughts about the things we have access to and those we miss. To me, what matters is to not give primacy to fear and to proceed with what I feel is right, despite the obvious risk. Will it be good enough? Is it all I want? I fearlessly follow my intuitions. To where? That is the wrong question.