Have you ever wondered what is most certain in life? Its uncertainty, silly! Yes, contradictory though it may sound, that is the greatest truth; it is akin to the adage of Heraclitus the Greek philosopher, who maintained that nothing is permanent but change! Though there is no certainty about anything in life, we human beings plan so much for the future. We build a web of relationships, acquire assets, make plans for the next generation, knowing fully well that the future is uncertain. We do not know what is going to happen the very next moment of our lives but we continue to dream and plan. Do you think this is man’s greatness or foolishness that he continues to behave as though he has full control over everything that matters?
The COVID-19 pandemic has established this sentiment, that I harp on, very well. We all welcomed the new year 2020 with open hands and not once did we imagine that life was to change so much as the months rolled on. Now, we are confronted with (epistemic ?) uncertainty; lots of questions have been thrown up for which no one has any convincing or satisfactory answers. Even as the entire mankind anxiously waits for a magical vaccine or drug that can treat COVID, the future is still largely unpredictable.
Uncertainty has always been an inseparable part of everyone’s existence but there are times when this gets to you more than ever. One of the worst kinds of uncertainty is the one when you wait for results; these could be results of confirmatory pathological tests or of a competitive examination. The uncertainty and the accompanying wait almost kill you. Your anxiety is boundless. Its like the bark being worse than the bite. These are the times when our mind is clouded by various negative thoughts and each passing moment is agonizing.
Working mothers (like me!) also deal with uncertainties, which of course unlike the ones listed above, are rather miniscule in proportion but are enough to unsettle one nonetheless. For example, is the cook going to turn up or not in the morning or will the nanny reach the school bus stop on time to pick up the children in the afternoon? You may laugh at them but these are uncertainties that one deals with everyday. Such doubts arise because we human beings always imagine the worst. But thankfully most of what we dread actually never happens. Our worst fears are seldom realized. But the problem is that very often our greatest hopes also meet the same fate!
So I come back to the question I posed at the very beginning of the post – that is, though there is no certainty about anything, we human beings continue to plan for the future. Is this our foolishness or greatness? I would believe it is the latter. Not planning for the future would only mean being fatalistic. So we plan for the short, medium and the long term based on our goals. It is true that all plans will not and perhaps are not meant to fructify – especially the overambitious and unrealistic ones. But when the planning is within reasonable limits it actually helps to deal with any situation that may spring up. In fact it is not one but several plans that one must have; like they say, a plan B should always be ready. So even as life is fraught with vagaries, we as human beings are endowed with intellect and resilience to take things as they come, even if they were not what we had intended them to be. If there is uncertainty at every step, so is there hope that tomorrow will be better than today.