When the Way Can't Be Seen
discovering artistry in uncertainty
Uncertainty can be stressful. When we can't see familiar landmarks, when the way is obscured, how do we navigate? In the absence of things we've come to rely on to find our way, it's easy to collapse into anxiety or explode with frustration. It's also possible to cultivate creative ways of seeing and navigating.
As it turns out, empirical data owes much to the observer. This means that observable facts are not absolute truths, and even the most sophisticated technologies cannot offer us certainty. Yet, in our quest for total safety and security, we have made an enemy of life’s innate ambiguity and we mostly overlook the wisdom of imagination.
In the realm of art, we accept that there is more than one interpretation, and we prize vivid imagining. Could we confer these values on life itself and learn to view living as a moment-to-moment act of artistry?
I invite you to take a look at the image at the top of this page, and notice what it evokes in you…
Does it summon emotions or a mood? Perhaps you imagine a scenario in which this person is kidnapped or playing a game of trust. You might perceive the image as social commentary or be reminded of an event in your own life. The beauty of ambiguity is that it invites us into a highly personal relationship with what-is. It encourages a deeper relationship with the mystery of life, both outside and inside ourselves.
Over a century ago, the renowned poet Rainer Maria Rilke encouraged an aspiring artist to “love the questions.” His advice to cultivate patience with all that is unresolved, expresses reverence and appreciation for the fertile ground of mystery.
Given the apparent urgency around what is unresolved in our world today, learning to “love the questions” and embrace the mystery might seem like an impossibly luxury. Yet this may be what’s required for creativity, for allowing for something new to arise.
In my own experience, when I’m able to remember the fecundity of uncertainty, I generate more patience and reverence, and enjoy the creative process of living.
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