Last week a family member shared some upsetting news, and I just lost it. I couldn’t be “strong” or “hold it together.” So, I did what I do when I need healing – I took a walk, even though it was late and dark outside.
I started thinking about all the things that were tilted in my life, from the pandemic to the news I had just heard. I was getting more and more upset wondering what to do until suddenly, out of nowhere, three words popped into my head.
I don’t know.
In the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the Greek father often would shrug his shoulders about things beyond his control and lament “I don’t know.”
I decided to try it out. When will the pandemic end? I don’t know. When will I be able to feel safe eating in a restaurant? I don’t know. How will my business and creativity be affected? I don’t know.
I started thinking about how I was even confused about what makes me happy right now. I thought I knew what it was, but I’ve not been so clear of late. When that happens, I feel scared. It’s a loss of control and surety. Yet in this moment, I didn’t feel worried at all. I let out a big exhale and almost shouted the words aloud I don’t know! Immediately, I felt better.
It felt like surrendering the steering wheel to something much bigger. Suddenly, I didn’t have to hold it all together. To control or plan things. To exhaust myself trying fruitlessly to bend life to my will. To have the right answer. Or the wrong one. I simply don’t know.
It also felt truthful. Incredibly so. I realized how many times I tell myself that I know what will happen next, how I’ll react, what I’ll do… when ultimately I have no idea. Often that thought terrifies me. But this time, it didn’t feel like a fear but a complete, glorious surrender. Finally, I could rest in the present moment.
As I walked through the darkness, the half-moon glinting between the trees, crickets chirping, the sound of the breeze swaying the leaves, I felt held. Loved. Deeply connected.
I also heard through the moonlight the whisper of mystery, and the expansiveness that comes with not knowing. When I’m in this place, my mind lets go rather than hoarding painful thoughts and imaginings. Possibilities are limitless. I get out of the way and life has a chance to surprise me, delight me, or grow me in ways I didn’t imagine, but ultimately needed.
As I rounded the bend towards home, I was almost weeping with the freedom of those three words. As for what’s next, all I know is that, I don’t know. Thank goodness…
What are you ready to admit you don’t know in this moment? Whisper it, shout it, or write it in the comments section at the bottom of this page!
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Creative Soul Summer Oasis Circles
Weekly throughout June, 2020
Online with Zoom
Let’s start with “I don’t know” and go from there. It’s time to really listen to our inner wisdom, to sync up with our rhythms, to remember what matters most in this ever shifting landscape. Usually my popular women’s circles are only offered in person, but a silver lining is a chance for YOU to participate regardless of location. If you’ve been wanting to connect with other conscious, creative women and more importantly yourself, join us! All the details are HERE.
Creativity and Writing Retreat in Taos, New Mexico
with Carolyn Scarborough and Sharon Zeugin
Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM
April 4 to 9, 2021
The Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Taos, New Mexico
Unwind underneath the big skies and tap into your most alive, inspired and creative self. Join us at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, New Mexico … a place that became a creative hub, drawing literary and artistic luminaries from Georgia O’Keeffe to D.H. Lawrence.
It is an inspired place that calls the weary spirit to rest and revitalize, making it the perfect place for our Spring Retreat in Taos. Amidst the mountains and vast skies, essential pieces of your creative soul return. And as you move deeper into presence, creative energies begin to percolate. You pick up a paintbrush and what is true begins to flow through it. You sit under a cottonwood tree and your pen beckons with inner stories waiting to be told. Soon, your natural creativity is flowing again as you rediscover yourself as artist, writer, free spirit, inspired human… Details here.
Maria L Gatling says
Your post really hit home! Thank you for sharing your real you with us as you always do. Seven years ago I had some family turmoil with one of our kids and I wrote those 3 words in my notebook as 3 words to accept…big and orange! It did free me and as Didi says, we do know so many little pleasures in life…that’s good enough for me. Seven years later, life has turned out just fine. Hoping you feel that comfort. Much love to you Carolyn!
Big and orange?! Now that’s a first, how creative! Thanks Maria and yes, I agree, sooooo many small pleasures in life. I am grateful for each and every one.
All the responses here show me what an awesome community of women has connected with you, Carolyn. Each post has inspired me as “icing on the cake” of your post, giving that permission to just “not know” or to notice what we do know afterwards.
Thanks Liz – yes, it is the most awesome community of conscious, creative, open-hearted women on the planet (and that includes you)! I am so blessed to be surrounded by these women and inspired by them daily. Doing the women’s circles, writing circles and retreats in the midst of their love and support (of themselves AND each other) I believe uplifts us all…
Didi Rowland says
Carolyn, I love this and I love you! One of the reasons you are so beloved is that you’re always open to possibilities. And you encourage others to open up to them as well.
I want to add a bit…There are a few things I DO still know…The moon is above. My neighbors are kind. The plants in my yard are flourishing. My tears taste like salt. Homemade banana muffins are delicious. I love my home, family and friends so much! My life is rich beyond belief even though I am terrified at times.
Lately I’m becoming more able to tamp down the terror to prickling fear….or even down another notch down to quiet faith and patience. We’re all in this bizarre movie together…unwilling actors. I never auditioned for this! And yet…here we are. May I play my part as a loving supportive character to the best of my ability.
Oh so beautifully and compassionately said Didi! Yes, there are so many kind and nourishing things that we DO know…
Marilyn Zwicker says
Read this and it “tipped the scale.” I will (and did) sign up for Creative Soul Circle. There are so many things I don’t know right now:
When will I be able to drive again?
How long will my recovery from surgery take?
What should I do about distressing symptoms?
Where did my poetry go?
What is happening to the country I love and was proud of?
What can I do now?
I don’ know is the perfect expression of my current state of mind
This captures it for so many of us, Marilyn. Thank you for your vulnerable sharing and I’m so excited you are joining the women’s circles this June!
Lisa Capehart says
Loved this post, Carolyn. It’s amazing how powerful three little words are. <3
Yes it is! 🙂
Julie Bowman says
What a powerful piece, Carolyn. There is indeed something freeing about accepting our not-knowing. I wrote this last Wednesday following a Zoom “mindful sit,” after musing about the same thing, and feeling more peaceful.
The illusion of control: exposed.
The promise of security: broken
or perhaps never made.
The desire for certainty still asserting itself
So many questions.
So few answers.
Big questions about life on this planet, its very future.
Little questions about how to move through my day.
So many questions.
So few answers.
Let me seek peace within the unknown.
Let me savor the small things now:
washing the blueberries for the oatmeal
cheering on the squirrels in the backyard
resting my head on my beloved’s shoulder
Maybe not such small things after all.
Let me share joy wherever I find it.
Let me choose trust, and hope.
And let the questions rest.
No answers required.
Lisa Capehart says
Wow, what a beautiful poem, Julie! I’d love to share this.
Julie Bowman says
Thank you, Lisa! You are welcome to share it, just add my name instead of my initials, please!
What a perfect poem to enlarge the “I don’t know” perspective of this piece. Just lovely. Thank you Julie!