“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphy

Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphy

One of the things I’ve really benefitted from mindful living is embracing the feelings–the negative ones especially. Inviting them in like an old friend instead of trying to shut the door on them–”Hello, Grief. Glad you stopped by today. Hug?” or “Ah, my old friend Anger. Please, come in. It’s been so long.” And sitting with them like an old friend in my living room; getting to know them again. Feeling the intensity around me, in me, through me. Until it’s time to bid them adieu. After a proper visit, they inevitably tell me when they need to leave.

The one feeling I still struggle with cuddling up to is Uncertainty. I love me some control. I like to be the one who decides how the story will end. I don’t like surprises. Well, some surprises I do like: Cake! Party! Money in my coat pocket!

What I don’t like is not knowing. I don’t like not knowing what the outcome will be. You know I used to be a master at rushing things along or forcing things to happen just so I could get to the end of the story. So I would know how it ended. It may not have been the ideal outcome, but by God I knew what was coming and I could prepare. I thought: I can make things happen!

I’ve come to realize it is through this rushing, hurrying along of things, that contributes to the fear and disdain of the Uncertainty. I’m not living in the present moment when I’m so worried about altering the pace of things so that I can know whether to rejoice or despair. I’m too caught up in planning and preparing for that outcome. I believed the busy work of forcing outcomes helped to quell the discomfort of Uncertainty. But it really doesn’t feel any better either way. Discomfort just feels really uncomfortable.

I remind myself I need to breathe and acknowledge my old companion, Uncertainty. It always stops by no matter what–no matter if It was invited, or if I had other plans and it’s an inconvenient time for a visit. I need to stop trying to get It out of the house before the other guests arrive.

When I stop setting things up and rushing, I slow down enough to look at It in the face and breathe. I see It for what It is, and by calling it by name, I can visit with It for a while. I know when It’s given Its due attention, It will leave when the time is right. It’s in this re-acquaintance with Uncertainty that I learn to trust that I can deal with whatever ending transpires.

Because I know life goes on when It leaves, and It will most certainly come visit again sooner rather than later. Maybe it will bring a hostess gift next time–a nice bottle of wine perhaps?

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5 Responses to “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. Karin says:

    The light in me sees and honors the light in you! This might be my favorite one yet 😉


  2. If everything is constantly changing, why don’t we embrace uncertainty? It seems we are intent in going against the laws of Nature.


    • Great point, good question. I think it’s the fear of fear–familiarity is comfort and so we tend to fight change and maintain the status quo even when it’s not working in our favor. It’s the energy we expend in fighting change that makes it even more uncomfortable I think. When we lean into the discomfort it’s actually not bad 🙂


  3. Anonymous says:

    Read Ajahn Chah, famed monk of the Thai Forest tradition. He spoke of uncertainty more than anything else. Everything is uncertain. There is no escape from it. Embracing it is the only way.



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