As I type this, it is Sunday night in New York City. I am alone in my hotel room on the 33rd floor. And the hurricane is coming this way.
I have prepared as much as I am able. I have water, food, and little LED lights. I have considered the possibility of flying debris breaking the window. I have charged up my Kindle and my iPod. I have changed my flight and talked to hotel reservation clerks.
There is nothing else I can do. So today, taking advantage of the subway that is now no longer running, I visited the Guggenheim and Metropolitan museums. I looked at Kandinsky (my favorite was Small Pleasures) and Monet and Renoir paintings. I saw three gorgeous Fabergé eggs. I talked to a man whose handshake was crushing and could reel off famous quotations the way I can sing musical theater songs.
This has been, in many ways, a year of high uncertainty for me. But this hurricane takes it up another notch, so that now I am uncertain about basics of my physical comfort: is the power going to go out? Will I be able to keep warm with no heat? Did I buy enough supplies? Can I keep myself from going insane in the dark? How long it will last, and when will I be able to leave?
I hate uncertainty. I’m a big planner. Uncertainty tends to make me deeply uncomfortable. So that means I’ve been growing a lot this year, and this hurricane is like a particularly swift kick in the pants to make sure I keep at it.
Here is what I’ve learned about uncertainty. Even though I don’t like it, I can sit with it. I can be kind to myself in the middle of it. I can try to keep myself fed and well-rested so I can deal with it better. Once in a while I can even embrace it and see the potential it represents.
Uncertainty also heightens my appreciation and gratitude for what I do have right now. For having a purpose in life as exciting and fabulous as writing. For the wonderful people with whom I get to spend time. For cute snuggly little dogs who burrow into my side. For warm clothes and cupcakes and beautiful art and performance art that pushes boundaries. For leaves that change color in the autumn. For courage and wisdom and curiosity and kindness and vulnerability. And for the open-hearted generosity that so many people have been showing me.
And you know what? I even feel grateful for being afraid to die. Because that means I have so very much to live for.
I’ll be in the heart of uncertainty for the next few days. I’m even uncertain as to whether there will be another blog post this week. But I hope there will be.
Do you have any thoughts about uncertainty? I’d love to hear them!
ETA Tuesday 12:30am: It appears that the worst of the storm is over where I am. I’m fine, I still have power, and none of the windows broke. Many thanks to all my fine friends who reached out to me while the storm raged.