You Don’t Need To Put All Your Ducks In A Row

You might not think that anxiety arises in you, but it’s quite likely that it does. Of course, you might think that you don’t tend to experience anxiety because you’re not often filled with dread about what the future has in store for you nor, you think, do you have a fear of death nor do you tend to conjure up catastrophes. Others, indeed, have reported on the fact that you often “seem calm.”

But guess what? Anxiety, in subtler forms, may indeed arise in you. Consider:

  • Do you find that you just need to know how something will turn out or what it will mean for you?
  • Do you find yourself restless when you don’t know what to do (e.g.) with yourself?
  • Do you notice that you tend to plan a good deal?
  • Do you ask for big answers to assignments or tasks well before you begin? (“I just need more clarification on this, OK?”)
  • Do you observe that you tend to want to do something so well that it’s damn near perfect?

See that all of these, in truth, arise from anxiety: “I don’t know; I have to know; I don’t know; I need to know…” The presumption is that one cannot live or cannot live well with not knowing, but that presumption is incorrect.

Actually, not knowing–that is to say, dropping the purported need to know–is the condition of possibility for openness, presence, alertness, suppleness, lightness, and equanimity. Then you see that your field of vision has expanded. Then you notice that the other person is not someone you’re bound to run roughshod over. Then you can stand in the mighty streams of life with enough grounding to remain firm or to move with the flowing waters.

(Perhaps it will also, at a higher level, become clear to you that the mind is what purportedly needs to know but that you are not the mind.)

You don’t know what you think and feel you need to know. And if you were to utterly drop the rage for certainty as well as the anxiety from which this rage for certainty springs, you would find the peace you thought you could achieve only after all the ducks had been put in a row. That peace is here always.