Making the Unpleasant Pleasant
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
Having two inquisitive teenagers at home makes for very interesting dinner conversations. Of late, we have discussed how to tolerate the intolerant, why the Torah has laws we no longer follow, why slavery has ever been a part of our human history, and why evil exists. They want answers, but they aren’t satisfied with pre-fabricated pithy answers that lack intellectual integrity. They are finding that their black and white view of the world is under threat, and they are beginning to understand that life is filled with far more questions than answers.
Sometimes our desire for answers to life’s big questions arises from a fear of this “[un]pleasant condition” that Voltaire calls doubt. But, what is wrong with doubt? Author Chris Guillebeau refers to this doubt as “wandering in the wilderness of the soul”. A friend shared a beautiful blog post of his yesterday, in which he says, “There’s no ‘5 ways to escape the wilderness’ guide. If it where that simple, it wouldn’t be a true wilderness. But understand this: acknowledging that you are in the wilderness is oddly empowering. Admitting your powerlessness can build resilience.”
I think, like Guillebeau, I am becoming more comfortable with this wilderness of the soul. I’m more at peace now—with all my questions—than I ever was with all my certainty. I’m not sure I’d consider the desire for certainty absurd, but I know that I am no longer seeking it. I’m not looking for a way out of the doubt. Rather than being the source of frustration or angst, doubt has become a source of inspiration, artistic creativity, lively discussions, and peaceful contemplation. I’m settling into this journey, and I’m finding this unpleasant condition of doubt remarkably pleasant.