Schermafbeelding 2011-07-22 om 10.26.11

Knowing where you’re going…
In our world, ‘certainty’ is very much considered worth pursuing. ‘Knowing were you’re going’, is what that game is called. Whereas ‘uncertainty’ or ‘not knowing where you’re going’, means danger. At least, this is what we’ve been told from a very early age. For example, let’s take a look at the classic Andersen tale of Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel are left alone in a remote forest.

That’s fine, because Hans is very good at the game of knowing where you’re going. So he came well prepared and left a trail of bread crumbs to find the way home. But, oh no! A bird ate all the bread crumbs! Now they are thrown in utter uncertainty and, having no other option, they start walking – not knowing where they’re going…
Surely they walk straight into the hands of a witch who at first seems nice. In fact, her cute little house made out of candy makes them believe they are in heaven. But as it turns out, the witch wants to eat them for lunch. Yeah, scary. Fortunately, on their turn, they manage to throw the witch into a blazing fire and escape. Great! So what’s the message? Even a 4 year old can do the math: not knowing where you’re going equals potential death.

Not knowing where you’re going…
The message of pursuing certainty is brought to us in many ways. From bed time stories to choosing a career. Our parents, schools, the media, society as a whole: we are taught to know where we’re going for it will lead us to certainty. But what if you don’t know where you’re going? Are you really in danger, like Hansel en Gretel? Well, to begin with, no you’re not. It’s very unlikely you risk being eaten, so relax. But still, having this feeling sucks. We all know what it’s like to feel lost. If only for a moment, it can really make you feel alone. As if everyone else is playing the game well, choosing direction and you’re not. You are: uncertain.

So now what?
Let’s look at it in a challenging way and turn it all around. What do you think happens when youalways know where you are going, what to do and what to say? When you have the answer to every question and never get lost. And you never feel uncertain because you know the outcome of everything? Though comfortable at first, it would turn your life in complete and utter boredom! There wouldn’t be any surprise of any kind whatsoever! For example, reading a book is useless because you already know the ending. Watching a football game is no fun since you know who’s going to win anyway. An unexpected visit from a long lost friend means nothing: you saw that coming miles ahead! Same goes for the scenario where you get the job, the house, or find the love of your life: it wouldn’t be special at all. Everyday, you would wake up knowing exactly what’s going to happen, when, how, why and what to do about it.

Besides the fact it’s boring, ruling out uncertainty would also be the end of certainty, as it would become ‘standard’, the only thing that can be. And who wants to live a standard life? It’s uncertainty, that makes our life exciting, mysterious and challenging. Sure it’s ultimately about finding a balance… But keep in mind that whenever you you don’t know where you’re going and feel uncertain, it’s exactly that what makes your life interesting.

Happily ever after…
So let’s go back to Hansel and Gretel. Because as their story continues, it turns out the witch has a cellar full of silver, gold and diamonds. Not bad! They both take as much as they can, find their way home and live happily ever after. So what’s the overall message?

Ultimately, the road to certainty is uncertain. Even if you come well prepared, things may not go the way you had planned. Things may not go as fast as you wish. At that point it’s all about how you deal with that. In the case of Hans and Gretel, they began walking even though the did NOT know where were going. They took a chance, embraced uncertainty and finally were rewarded in ways they could never have imagined!

Alright, enough about Hansel and Gretel – let’s just start walking.
Knowing or not knowing where you’re going, it’s all part of the journey.

July 6, 2011 by: | Category: column |

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