Doubting Certainty

'Wisdom' and Other Words To Live By From a Wet-Behind-The Ears Oracle

'Wisdom' and Other Words To Live By From a Wet-Behind-The Ears Oracle

I fell asleep such a long long time ago,
I barely know now how it feels
to come back to my senses,
to perceive the waking whole
and not the parts I dreamed were real.
The dreams had such a grip,
they must have tied me down
much longer than it seemed.
They must have given me
so many causes and effects,
so many reasons to lay low.
Even now it’s hard to know
what’s true and what’s
another pain or pleasure trip.
It’s tough to tell if I’m just
dreaming that I’m finally standing up
or if the drifting off,
the turning over and letting go
are what we all must do
if there’s to be a coming to
even now or then.
There are those insisting
that we have a choice
about the way it goes
if not the way it ends.
It’s a Judgment call I guess,
but whose?

Streep_DoubtIn the compelling film version of the award-winning play “Doubt,” Meryl Streep’s intensely drawn Sister Aloysius tells the priest accused of inappropriate contact with a boy student that while she has no real proof of his guilt, nonetheless, “I have my certainty!”

That line has stayed with me.  Maybe it’s because so often the opposite feels true; that is, “I have my doubts!”

I’ve even been wondering off and on lately if certainty might be somewhat overrated.  What if we never intended to lead lives of certainty?  What if, from a soul perspective, we relish the uncertainty of our lives . . .  recognizing the fertile ground that it provides for planting and harvesting seeds of faith against all odds . . .  of choosing to believe—if only off and on—even when there isn’t much in the way of visible evidence to substantiate that belief?

According to many astrologers, each of the 12 signs of the zodiac has a unique, characteristic dilemma that plays out in that sign’s evolutionary path during any given lifetime.  For my sun sign, Pisces, that dilemma is usually expressed as the challenge “To believe”.

I’ve been trying to crack that nut for most of my life it seems.  I know that certainty is a better feeling place than doubt.  Certainly more comfortable a spot to hang out in.  I even know, on some level, with some certainty, that there is a prevailing and comforting truth in the often expressed admonition that “All is well . . .”  . . .“Everything works out in the end” . . . substitute your own version of a similar platitude. 

So then why is doubt so often the more compelling path . . . the light I seem to end up buzzing around like a bug who doesn’t realize he’s headed for a pest strip or a poisonous candle?

One of the teachers whose work I admire, Abraham-Hicks, often talks about doubt in the context of what they call “contrast”.  An even more neutral term would be ‘variety’. It has to do with the way that discomfort invites movement and expansion.  We don’t change or grow very much from a place of comfort.  Certainty is comfortable. As much as we think we are comfort seeking creatures, we are also growth-seeking creatures.  We conjure up all manner of drama to that end, however unconsciously.  We thrive on expansion, even as we vehemently protest the discomfort that often provokes it.

Andre Gide is quoted as saying, “I admire those who seek the truth.  I avoid those who’ve found it.”  He clearly would have loved hanging out with me.

I enjoy hearing teachers and preachers and other persuasive messengers proclaiming a gospel of certainty.  It’s inspiring and sometimes empowering and often encouraging to hear the good news that, ultimately, we can’t get it wrong and everything is going to be fine . . .  that to whatever extent we let ourselves believe it, we can create any reality we choose.  I’ve conveyed similar messages often enough and I meant them.

It’s possible that we can reach a place in any given lifetime where the certainty of all that prevails and where we no longer struggle with the questions or concerns or worries or fears that seem to more often provide us with the motivation we need to keep reaching, keep asking, keep changing . . . 

It’s possible that I’m on the verge of a new and improved me who never gives a second thought to anything but the best possible outcome of any given circumstance of situation.  It’s possible that open and once I’ve got it in clear view I will never lose sight of it again . . .  but I doubt it.



About Dan

Published novelist, poet, essayist, copywriter, photographer and college educator. Visit me at

Posted on September 27, 2009, in Self Development. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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