I am trying to figure out two very simple things, how to live and how to die.
I am riding home in the rain. It’s dark but it’s not late. It feels late. It’s real rain, really real rain. If god were to pop into existence tonight, he could certainly peel up London off the soil beneath and wring it out like a dish cloth, and fill up a lot of buckets too.
I am riding home in the rain and, like most times, I am thinking about decisions. There are some things I am certain about. I am certain about my route home tonight. But this knowledge is precious, delicate. Were a diversion to send me down a sidestreet, my certainty would vanish. I know only one artery, this main road; the capillaries are mysteries. Thus any such certainty about where I am in the city comes with a conditional clause, change my street address, and so goes the ground I call known.
To seek something solid is human. We love decisions decided. Even in those cases where perhaps we made the wrong one. Maybe I am beginning to understand just how perverse this can be. The road ahead cannot be, will never be, the road ahead. What right has that definite article to prefix our road? We go this way because there is no other way we can go.
— Tell me, when do you plan to buy your first house? The man asked.
— Well I don’t know if I ever will, another replied. Maybe that’s not for me you know, maybe I will rent places all my life.
— I really think that you should go and talk to a therapist.
Here is the impasse between the man who cannot imagine life without security, and the man who has let go of a part of the fear of not knowing. It does not sound like much, but it is big. In fact, it is exactly the size of the uncertainty that we face each day. Either we can let it push us into the ground — into knowing where we are (and thus never leaving that spot) — or we can stand up and say
I see you.
And I don’t know.
And I go on.
It is often when we yearn for an answer that we stand to learn the most from staying with the question
Just like I get lost in the small roads of London, so I get lost in my life. The one artery I have — my way home — is very simple: I will die. Everything else is unanswered. I am beginning to see a new freedom in the undecisions. I don’t know, of course, but that’s ok.