My daughter sent this to me today; it was taken somewhere in the underbelly of the NY Subway.
I don’t know what it means.
I don’t think I’m unique in my desire to know what things mean. To be unsettled by uncertainty. Flux. Confusion. The in-between. Children who confound us. Complicated relationships. Ourselves and our reactions. Complicated subway posters.
I want answers!
And I’m always looking for them. Why…are they like that? Am I like this? Did this or that happen?
And as a writer, I often search in words—quotes, wise sayings, themes of great books or a poetic metaphor that will reveal my own personal mysteries.
Yet, these ah-ha moments are short-lived. Something else inevitably happens. And causes me to question previously held certainties.
In a recent episode of Poetry Unbound, host Padrig O’Tauma reflected, Anytime I find myself loving a word, thinking, oh this is the word for the moment, these days I find myself looking for some the edges of it, thinking, well is this word so good for everybody and how can I find a way to explore it?
The question then is, can I exist in the in-between? The not knowing? The waiting and mining the heart for richness of meaning? Can I sit in this moment and be content with what is?
As I get older, I realize that sitting with confusion is far more satisfying than the quick-fix of pithy answers. I’m drawn to novels that are ambiguous. Short stories that leave you hanging. Relationships enriching and also challenging.
I find myself saying, like the iconic Tevya in “Fiddler on the Roof”, well on the one hand…but on the other hand…
I don’t know a lot. And I’m getting more comfortable with not knowing. What I seem to seek now is a rich understanding. An experience of authenticity. A recognition of complexity and confusion.
It might be frustrating at times, but it’s real. And in this realness, there is a patience, a quiet restfulness. Or so I tell myself…