One-word inspiration: Uncertainty

I wasn’t certain which word to select for this Writing 101 assignment, so it seemed appropriate that it be Uncertainty.

As I consider what uncertainty means to me, I’m trying to explore where there is uncertainty in my life and what I think about it. Several things initially come to mind that I will try to describe, such as the unknown, worry, finances, death, and the future.

Unknown

I thought it might be interesting to see what a dictionary said about uncertainty. That didn’t help too much because it had a circular definition for the noun: “the state of being uncertain”, and “something that is uncertain, or that causes one to feel uncertain”.

So that led me to see if the adjective “uncertain” would help me any more, and I found that described as “not able to be relied on; not known or definite: an uncertain future”, or  (of a person) not completely confident or sure of something: I was uncertain how to proceed”.

I didn’t want to explore the principle in physics which states “the momentum and position of a particle cannot both be precisely determined at the same time”.

So what made the most sense to me was to focus on “not known or definite”. Although I don’t know what I don’t know, I guess the unknown is the basis for uncertainty.

Worry

I also looked at the thesaurus for similar words where I found these for “uncertain”: unknown, vague, changeable, unsure, hesitant. And for the noun “uncertainty” there was: unpredictability, doubt, hesitancy.

When I think of uncertainty, it sometimes leads me to consider what might (or might not) happen, and it seems that it might be worth exploring the meaning of “worry” which is defined like this: (verb) give way to anxiety, concern, or unease; allow mind to dwell on difficulties or troubles; (noun) state of anxiety or uncertainty over actual or potential problems.

Since worry keeps mentioning anxiety, I thought I would look that up too, and found this: feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Again it refers to worry and uncertainty.

I suppose uncertainty about the unknown can cause a lot of worry. However, in the past when my future was more uncertain, I did experience a lot of worry, anxiety, and the resulting stress. At least the panic attacks I had in my early 30’s are now behind me, and I have eliminated most stress in my life since retirement. And I find there’s much less uncertainty now as I grow older, and not at much to worry about. It really just doesn’t do any good to waste your time worrying about things that are uncertain anyway.

Finances

Typically money is something that has a lot of uncertainty associated with it. You wonder if you can make enough to live the life that you want for you and your family. And if you manage to take care of basics, then you need more for all those things that you enjoy that might need money. Finally, you wonder if it will be enough to last enough through retirement before you die, which brings me to the next thought. Will there be enough time to spend the money that you have saved and enjoy the rest of your life, especially before health or accidents might intervene? Also will there be enough to share with your children and support them after you are gone?

Death

One aspect of life that is the most uncertain would probably be death. We all know that we will die so that’s certain, but we don’t know when, so that’s definitely uncertain. That makes me think about deaths in my life would definitely affect me. So I guess I need to consider the deaths of my Mom, wife, sons, and myself, even though normally I would tend to avoid thinking about that. I promise that I will not delve into it very much, but just enough to say a few things about “uncertainty” since I don’t want to make this article too long or depressing.

Mom

First, the most certain of these uncertainties is my Mom since she is 95 years old with Alzheimer’s disease that she’s had for over 10 years now. She has been doing fairly well in spite of her age, but I know that can’t last. It’s just a matter of time before she dies, and that time is approaching fairly quickly. Although the way she gets through colds, coughs, pneumonia, etc, it makes me wonder how much longer this continue.

Also, she’s almost out of money now so my siblings and I will have to cover the monthly deficit for her assisted living facility and that will not be easy for any of us, although at least she does have five children so that can help spread the impact. So from a financial standpoint, I hope it doesn’t go a long time. She’s lived a very long life, much longer than she ever imagined (if she remembered).

My father died over two years ago after a year in a nursing home after a serious fall which he never recovered from. However, she does not even know he’s been gone for over three years now, and we never told her because she would have been devastated and that would repeat like everything else, so her lack of memory is actually a blessing. Well, at this point, after caring for her for so long, I think her time will come soon, and I think I’m as ready to accept that reality as I could be. But we still can’t know when –  until it happens … and before that it remains an uncertainty.

Me

Then I guess the next death uncertainty would be my wife and myself. We’re both in good health, so the uncertainty is much higher than my Mom. Since I am only 70, I still assume that I will live another 20 years or so. But you never know. I do have Type 2 diabetes and that raises the probability that I might get complications that might complicate the uncertainty somewhat. However, I feel better than I have in a long time, and my wife is in great health too. Of course, bad things sometimes happen, so you can’t really assume anything. However, it’s important to “live like you were dying” (as Tim McGraw sings), and enjoy all the time you have and make the most of each day. Then when that time arrives, well it won’t be an uncertainty any more, and it will be very certain for the surviving partner (and children).

Summary

This turned out longer than I expected, and actually made me think quite a bit. Just trying to focus on the word was helpful to see what I think about it, and then the thoughts and words started to come and I started writing.

Uncertainty is the only thing that is certain about the future. You don’t know what will happen or when. If you knew everything about your future, you might miss spontaneity, excitement, surprise, delight, …

Today is certain, and what you do will affect what the future becomes. And if there is no future, then there’s nothing to worry about either. Make the most of every day and your future will certainly consist of good days to enjoy and remember.


This was the Day 3 assignment “One-word inspriration” for the Blogging U. course Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration, which provides writing prompts to “cultivate a daily writing habit and find inspiration in unexpected places”.

Today we were asked to write about one of the following words:  Treasure, Regret, Home, Love, Uncertainty, or Secret. I selected Uncertainty for my article since that sounded the most interesting to explore right now.

I hope you enjoy my blog and follow these daily writing assignments and other posts. Thanks for visiting today.

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