The State of Uncertainty

Sorry for the gap in an update.  I fear that I’m still mired in a state of uncertainty.  As I’m sure you well know, it is certainly an unpleasant condition.  After all, so much of the things that one normally takes for granted are suddenly unstable and upended.  Once I have located my next employment, I am certain that my writing will continue, more or less regularly, as it has these past two years.

Tonight, I cannot help but think of the parallels between my present state of uncertainly and Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature as he described it in his great work Leviathan.  Even though this undecided existence can certainly be nasty and at times brutish, we must hope that it, and not life itself, is relatively short.  Although the phrase “nasty, brutish, and short” is Hobbes’ most often recited addition to the political conversation, he has much more to say on this subject.  For example, directly prior to this grim pronouncement, he states that in this wretched state of nature, there can be “no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death.”  Although the fear of violent death doesn’t hold much sway, I assure you that this great uncertainty does hamper the spirit.  After all, how can a person be inspired to write when one is constantly hounded by the spectre of ruination?  With both fiction and nonfiction, one must have a proper mindset in order to properly craft sentences and paragraphs or else ideas cannot be properly conveyed.

Unfortunately I am not alone.  Perhaps you too tread in some kind of nightmare of uncertainty.  Remember that troubles come in a vast assortment of colours, such as personal, economic, spiritual, and even political.  My advice to both you and myself is that we never lose hope.  After all, although it is easy to give in to the temptation of despair, hope will see us through the dark times.  A better future will come, but we must constantly move toward it.  Sometimes we must slog through the murky unknown.

One Reply to “The State of Uncertainty”

  1. Well, as Leon Trotsky said, all things are relative in a world where change alone endures. But then, true art is always a struggle. And the truly creative members of a culture happen most often to be the ones most tortured by the vagaries of everyday existence. I deal with the feelings of uncertainty, inadequacy, fear, self-loathing and all the others, pretty much constantly. But that struggle is the source of the truly creative spirit, and engaging that and facing the challenge is what being a contemplative person is all about.

    Or to phrase it in a religious framework (not to proselytize, but because the artistic and religious impulses are closely related), a clergyman of my acquaintance once said something really remarkable. If the the whole of life can come down to a single moment, when you’re dying, and one can count on the infinite mercy of one’s deity of choice to forgive whatever you’ve done wrong, then doesn’t that mean that you can do whatever you want as long as you recant on your deathbed? The answer, of course, is that you probably can, but to do so would be to lead a life that isn’t really worth living. The struggle for mastery over self and circumstance is the point of a life well lived, and though it is a very hard way to go, and there seem to be so many easier paths, living life on your own terms is, in the end, the most worthwhile kind of pursuit.

    –M

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