However wise we are, however much knowledge we possess, and however focused we are on our future, our life will always contain uncertainty. Uncertainty is viewed as a source of terror for a lot of people. They view uncertainty as the realm of “what-if” anxiety, a source of endless speculation and dread. Uncertainty needn’t be a complete lack of details; even knowing a little bit while some things remain uncertain can be scary. As a species we have a tendency to want to have all the answers, including mentally rehearsing things which haven’t happened yet as a way of fortifying ourselves against a changing world. Yet as Jedi, we seek to live in harmony with the nature of reality. We work from the perspective of the Force, and the Force is at it’s most fundamental level, change.

I’m currently in a very uncertain place in my life. I’ve left my current job without another one to go to (although I’m trying to find something), and part of this means I have to go to job interviews where I don’t know what I’ll be asked. After these interviews I have a period of a week or more waiting for news of how I got on. If I’m successful, I will be uncertain about what the job is like, what the prospects are (despite what I’ve been told), uncertain about what my boss really thinks of me, etc etc etc. Uncertainty fills my whole perspective on my career at the moment, including being uncertain about exactly what I’m uncertain about.

When we try to rehearse for situations which we can’t be sure will happen, we are trying to create knowledge. We want to “know” how to respond to these uncertain scenarios in the hope this will mean we can approach them without uncertainty. The problem is not only that we can never predict everything, even every likely thing, but also that this causes us a tremendous amount of mental strain which can lead from anxiety to outright terror. Trying to hold every conceivable outcome is like trying to memorise an encyclopaedia, and worse than that, we can’t know if this encyclopaedia is a load of nonsense (it usually is!).

Better is the cultivation of wisdom; wisdom allows us to respond dynamically to a changing, uncertain world. Instead of an encyclopaedia, we need only know a few things about ourselves, things we already have at the core of our being. The wise person allows the situation to change as it always will, plans for only what requires planning and drops what can be dropped. Anxiety comes from our attempt to create knowledge; contentment comes from trusting our innate or earned wisdom to shine through and allow us to do the best with what we’re presented with, when it presents itself.

Some schools of thought suggest you have to rehearse for interviews. You have to have a list of The 101 Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions and be able to reel off a double-page answer to every one of them. I’ve found in the past that this leads to a lot of anxiety and a very flat and dull delivery to the interviewer. Better is to approach the interview with a deep knowledge of yourself, your skills and experience, and the wisdom to select the right answer, responding sincerely and truthfully. Who cares if I can engineer the A-grade answer and spit it back at the interviewer with a smug look on my face? When I misinterpret the question and give the parrot-answer to another question, that’s going to cause a problem. When I get the job and can’t do half the things I said I could do, that’s going to be a problem. But when I listen mindfully to the question, consider my answer and give a truthful and sincere response, trusting in my ability to articulate my thoughts in a professional and human manner… there are few job interviews I haven’t been successful in.

I won’t pretend this attitude of intuition extends to every part of my life – far from it. I’m frequently kept awake at night by fear of things I imagine are going to happen, at work, to my son, to my wife. I worry about things I’ve only imagined and ignore the reality of the situation. The work, then, is to apply the fluidity of intuition to the rest of my life. As Krishnamurti stated, quoted in my previous essay, “A confident man is a dead human being”. Our reliance on knowledge traps us, solidifies us, makes us brittle and inflexible to both new ideas, and the natural flow of things. Rather than relying on the mental constructs of knowledge, we must learn to focus on the life-teachings of wisdom; wisdom such as the Jedi Code, for example. We must build a strong foundation in ourselves and develop the self-respect to trust our abilities, and to do so we must identify and work on our weaknesses.

Uncertainty is beautiful. It is chaotic, surprising, creative and always new. It teaches us about ourselves and allows us to grow, if we are willing to listen. It is the only teacher of intuition, a powerful asset to any individual, especially a Jedi. When we act as control freaks, we shut off our capacity to be surprise and ignore our intuition, instead deciding we can pre-plan everything. We ignore the nature of life, the nature of the living Force. We imagine our knowledge as absolute and concrete, and then when our expectations aren’t met we feel anxious, angry, fearful, hateful even. Our inner life is compromised by turmoil which makes it hard to remain true to the Jedi code. As such, to be “good Jedi”, we must let go of this concrete view of life and be open to change, uncertainty, and the fluid nature of the vast and complex system we are part of. How can we live in fear of imagined possibilities if we know we’re equipped to deal with whatever comes? How can fears of unreal things shake us if we’re truly engaged with reality?

The Force is alive. All that is constant about it is change; it is fluid and transitory and never still, not truly. Jedi strive to live in harmony with the Force, to work within it and bring all things in tune with its flow. Jedi must, therefore, accept change. Uncertainty is perhaps the truest expression of what the Force means; our passage through time, shifting and moving and changing in ways we could never predict. To live in harmony with the Force then, we must give up being control freaks and develop the capacity to differentiate between useful planning and unhealthy worrying. Sometimes, we plan, but we must unlearn the belief that “failure to plan is planning to fail”, at least to the extent that it’s the only way we can operate. Failure to grow is also planning to fail. Failure to love ourselves, failure to trust ourselves, failure to be fluid and open and accepting are the opposite of living in harmony with the Force, and as such all planning to fail. Failure means our goals aren’t met; our creed will go unrealised. We must succeed, and to do so we must learn to trust ourselves, rather than our fears.

And hey, how could we fail? The Force is change, uncertainty. The Force is with us!

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