Into the Unknown

It has been said that fear of the unknown is mankind’s oldest and deepest fear.  Why should that be? We live our entire lives moment to moment, never really sure of what will happen next. Given that, it would seem that familiarity would cause fear of the unknown to fade into the background.

The key lies in “moment to moment”. Life happens only in the present moment. The past is memory and the future is imagination. When we are focused on the present, the direct experience of living, there is no thought of the future…no window of imagination to allow fear to slip in.

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Life is a balance between hanging on and letting go. Most of us are much more comfortable with hanging on. There is a certain security in continuity. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that everything known was, at one time, unknown.

While every culture has its prophets and oracles, the future remains obstinately unknowable. Is that really a bad thing? If it were possible, would any of us truly want to know all that our future holds? As Alan Watts observed, a completely predictable future is already the past.

It may be that survival instinct has predisposed us to imagine unfortunate outcomes for the future. After all, if something good is going to happen, then there is nothing to fear and no preparation needed.

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” ~ Mark Twain

Living with the unknown and unknowable is an unavoidable part of life. Living in fear of them is optional. Positive outcomes and negative outcomes are, on the whole, equally likely.

The past and future are illusions, and they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is. Just keep your eyes on the road and have a little faith.

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”

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