Practice Uncertainty: Growing Pain
Before I started writing, I thought it consisted of announcing things to the world: Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the tablets, carved in stone.
I’ve learned that the process of writing requires much more uncertainty. A huge part of writing involves figuring out what to write about — coming up with lists of possible subjects. I started practicing this habit back in 2015, but I wasn’t ready to start publishing regularly for four years.
Exploring a topic requires diving into the unknown. Remember the game Minesweeper? To turn a subject into a full piece, you have to visit all the dark corners of the idea. You have to go discover what you really think.
Writing is a habit, and habits require discipline. I kept up pretty well through pandemic, the BLM unrest, and some family challenges. When the Ukraine war hit, we had a couple team members from that country who had to evacuate. I held on for the team’s sake, but when things calmed down a little I let my discipline lapse.
The discipline required and the unknown make a difficult combination. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ implies that knowledge is suffering, and we do have to suffer: to learn, we have to start by admitting we don’t know, then endure the pain of confusion.
So I’m coming back to writing after a pause. Another lesson to learn: you can always start over. In fact, we start over with every breath. This is what “born again” means to me: to constantly look at the world with beginner’s eyes.
I don’t know what painful lesson I’ll have to learn next. But the alternative to growing pains is stunted growth.
Learning requires uncertainty.